What If ObamaCare was Repealed?

During the August recess, Republican members of Congress will be holding Town Hall meetings to galvanize their constituents to send them back to Congress to repeal ObamaCare. This will be reminiscent of the 2010 Town Hall Meetings that used astro-turf Tea Party rallies to get media attention to keep ObamaCare from passing. It failed of course. Since then, even though a conservative Supreme Court has ruled the Affordable Care Act as Constitutional, the House has voted 37 times to repeal it. Considering the Senate will never take this measure up and even if they did, the President would veto it, the Republicans continue. They hope to get media coverage for this like they did in 2010. Not to repeal ObamaCare, but maybe to sour people from voting in the Midterms, like they failed to show up in 2010.

However, if they are going to hold Town Hall Meetings about the need to repeal ObamaCare, maybe we all should show up and have them explain the consequences to the American People if it is repealed and how this would be better for all Americans.

If the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is repealed, the following would occur:

  • Lifetime limits of healthcare coverage will be reinstated
  • You can be denied coverage for pre-existing medical conditions
  • Insurance Companies, who are now required to spend 80% of premiums exclusively on providing healthcare, will again be able to spend more on CEO bonuses, perks and non-healthcare related expenditures
  • Coverage can again be rescinded after claims are made without notice or appeal
  • Millions of Americans who have recently received healthcare coverage will lose it
  • State Governments will lose billions of dollars meant to supplement Medicaid expansion for their indigent population
  • Healthcare costs will rise as more uninsured people go to emergency rooms for care, with the costs being sent out to those who have insurance and tax-payers to compensate for
  • Children who are now covered from age 19 through 26 on their parents’ coverage will lose coverage
  • Insurance company “Death Panels” (for lack of a better term) will deny services to covered patients who are current with their premiums, for any technical reasons they can find to avoid paying out and the patient will have no recourse to appeal
  • Coverage for testing to prevent onset of more serious conditions will be cut
  • Profits for the CEO’s, Board of Directors and shareholders will increase while premiums for insurance plans increase and coverage decrease (as it was prior to ObamaCare going into effect)
  • Medicare expenditures for wasteful “Medicare Plus” plans being reinstated, reducing the lifetime solvency of Medicare.
  • Prenatal care programs will be cut
  • Women’s healthcare costs will increase over that of men’s coverage
  • Mental Health parity coverage will be eliminated
  • Millions more will lose healthcare benefits as health insurance costs increase beyond their ability to pay
  • Bankruptcy rates resulting from catastrophic medical healthcare costs will return

This list is not complete. The Republicans want to repeal the entire program and they do not have anything to replace it with. As a result, all of the above and more will be bestowed on the entire nation if ObamaCare is repealed. Bring these bullet points to the GOP Town Hall meetings, plus any others you may have and demand the Congressional Representative explain how this will be avoided.

Speak loudly though, angry Tea baggers will be there again to try to drown you out.

Honor Trayvon in 2014

Trayvon-MartinThe murder of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman was years in the making. Racism and profiling aside, a system has been created in Florida and other states in this union of ours that set the stage for this happening. Further as it stands, this can happen almost everywhere in this nation and will continue unless we all recognize what set this course and what is needed to correct it.

Politics has become a growth industry and pays out very well to those who get involved with it. It’s become this way because over the years and generations, as citizens stopped showing up at the polls and exercising their right and responsibility to register and vote, a smaller and often defined group remained as the only players. So those desiring power and those desiring money and power examined the situation and over the years have set things into place via propaganda and legislative acts that would pay them back with interest.

We all know that those of the extreme conservative ideological viewpoint of this country do one thing right that many of us don’t, they vote. They vote their interests, or at least what they think are their interests, and they end up being the target audience of those who want to make a killing in politics, both financially and by doing so set up an ideological course that works to their benefit and power.

A myth was created in this nation based on half truths and a creative narration that gun ownership was the main focus of our American revolution. This myth was created by a lobbying group for gun and ammunition manufacturers known as the National Rifle Association (NRA). This group was formally just a hunting club created just after the civil war. They once advocated safe and responsible gun ownership. However they have since morphed into a Washington DC lobbying group advocating for the big multi-billion dollar gun and ammunition manufacturers.

Now to get lobbying money from gun manufacturers, the NRA had to create a narrative in the country that we were and continue to be a nation that is centered on gun ownership rights. That the second amendment was placed there only to keep government honest, otherwise the citizens would fight them back with guns (untrue), that only a gun guarantees you protection from crime (untrue), that anyone with a gun can protect society since the police cannot respond in proper time (untrue), and that anyone with a gun is trained, qualified and able to shoot straight at the right target and cause no collateral damage (very very untrue).

Guns became items of worship and ownership of guns makes people heroes by their definition, armed people not to be trifled with and armed people are always right. They are defenders of truth, justice and the American way. This has been pummeled into the American psyche since the 1970’s. The focus group of this campaign is the conservative, ideological, easily gullible types who just happen to always manage to go out and vote.

They publish studies full of “anecdotal” stories of how guns prevent crimes and saved lives. None of these stories are ever peer reviewed, none of them measure up with validated, clear data to back up their assertions, because they are merely stories, not scientific measurable facts. So after all of this, everyone is convinced that in order to protect him from crime and our government, you must own a gun. Not just a gun, a lot of guns and a lot of ammunition. Training, qualifying, psychological evaluations aren’t necessary. A gun makes you a man and a hero.

Once this story hit critical mass, the NRA used the American Legislative Exchange Counsel, ALEC to start writing laws they want enacted in State Houses across the country that not only encourages the purchases of more guns, but absolved the gun owners and manufacturers of any civil or criminal liability for misusing the weapons.

They create the “Stand Your Ground” laws that make it easier to justify shooting anyone you fear without having to explain why you feared them or the context of why there was a confrontation in the first place. They also work to prevent any laws to be enacted that keep guns away from convicted criminals and or the mentally disturbed.

They do so knowing that if criminals and mentally ill don’t have weapons (or at least can’t get them easily), then gun owners won’t have as many anecdotal stories to report to justify owning a gun in the first place. In short, Gun Manufactures, the NRA and ALEC work together to arm all sides; the criminal element, the government element (police/military) and the “law-abiding” citizenry. “Everybody must have guns.”

Keep in mind, over this period of time “accidental gun deaths” as well as mass shootings continue to rise and no validated data has ever been provided showing a direct link to gun ownership and reduction in crime.

So because only the extreme ideological fringe vote, Stand Your Ground laws, Concealed Carry, No background Checks, Civil Immunity laws get enacted and placed in the system. This feeds into the deranged minds of those who buy up the NRA narrative that anyone with a gun is Batman, is a hero and is not only allowed to enforce vigilante justice, they are required to.

Enter George Zimmerman, a man who we know wanted to be a cop but couldn’t, a man with a violent temper that resulted in being fired as a bouncer, having a restraining order issued on him, and for being arrested for “resisting arrest” and assault on a police officer. A man who took MMA classes for 18 months but couldn’t demonstrate the skills or strengths necessary to effectively defend himself in a fight. That didn’t matter to him because despite his past, despite documented concerns about his mental health, he was able to get a concealed carry license.

He became his own “neighborhood watch” member after some break-ins in his neighborhood by a “black man”. Now that perpetrator was actually caught and arrested. But George had it in his mind that since “they all get away” he continued his patrols of the neighborhood. He then saw a black boy in a hoodie walking home in the rain.

He did what all neighborhood watch members are suppose to do, he called it in, then he did what they aren’t suppose to do, he got out, followed and confronted Trayvon.

No one saw the initial contact of the two and how it occurred. The only one still alive who can explain it is George. There was a fight, George may or may not have had the upper hand in that fight, no one other than George knows. However, we do know that none of his injuries were anywhere close to being life threatening, they could even have been self inflicted.

What we do know from the laws of common sense, is that the only way George could have drawn his weapon from his hidden holster, concealed in the small of his back, under his waist band, and would be if Trayvon wasn’t on top of him pummeling his face as George said he was. The prosecution failed to make this demonstration to the Jury in an effective matter. Trayvon could not have been on top of George when George fired his gun through Trayvon’s heart. Its simple common sense and logic. However, under our legal, since the State couldn’t show Murder 2 or Manslaughter to the Jury beyond a “reasonable doubt” George got away with killing a 17 year old boy who only had Skittles, a can of tea and a hoodie and was only walking home in the rain.

Because not enough people voted in Florida, Stand Your Ground, Concealed Carry, No Background Checks for Gun Ownership laws, all written and promoted by the NRA and ALEC for those few people who do vote on a regular basis, George was legally authorized to carry a concealed weapon, and didn’t have to go into the old requirement to prove self defense that existed prior to Stand Your Ground laws. A combination of Gun Manufacturers, the NRA, ALEC and Florida voter apathy set the events in motion that allowed George Zimmerman to kill Trayvon Martin and get away with it, never to be tried for that offense again.

When you do not register and take your right and responsibility to vote at every election, the ideological fringe element who do vote end up selecting the representatives and executives in State offices who present and enact the laws that allow the Trayvon Martin travesty to occur without any consequence to those who as John Guy pointed out in closing “have hate in (their) heart.”

This same voter apathy allows for people to get elected to enact laws that take voting rights away from those who would not vote for such things as this, take hard won civil rights laws away, take hard fought pro-choice laws away and take the rights of people this small group of ideologues don’t like, away. In short, they’re taking your rights away and you are letting them by not getting active and voting in every election.

Trayvon is dead; it is a travesty of justice for a life to be cut so short before it could even begin. This murder had caught the nation’s attention, the majority of people agree that Zimmerman should have been convicted of Manslaughter for his acts prior to, during and post his shooting of Trayvon. But the Florida laws that are in place due to voter apathy allow him to walk.

You want to Honor the short life of Trayvon Martin, get active and vote those who support such laws out of office. End the reign of terror by ALEC and the NRA working in support of gun and ammunition manufacturers. Vote them out and change the laws back where we are protected and the guilty are punished before what happened to Trayvon and his family happens to you.

We Are Responsible for the NSA Controversy

FaultAfter September 11, 2001 the country rallied behind our President, George W. Bush. Mind you at the time his popularity had been slipping. It had been a close election and he actually lost the popular vote to Al Gore, but with the Supreme Court stopping the Florida recount, he was able to secure enough electoral college votes to win the presidency. Nevertheless, the country had been attacked. We were all angry, scared and knocked clear out of our complacency to world events.

We did what people often do when attacked and threatened, we rallied behind our leader, regardless of who it is.

Bush had a Republican Senate and House and using the fear and anger of the people as motive, measures were prepared to “deal with the issue” and to make sure we were never attacked again due to lack of intelligence information. I won’t go into the fact that there was intelligence that existed to place the dots together and had the Bush administration paid attention, 9-11 could have been avoided. However, using what was known to the public, at least what was fed to the public who were willing to believe what they were spoon-fed, this is what happened:

Citing a “lack of intelligence” (a term that make me grin when stated in context with Congress) Congress began on work to correct it.

They prepared legislation that would combine all intelligence gathering operations under one office.

They would tear down walls that kept internal intelligence sources from communicating with foreign intelligence services so they could compare notes and connect dots.

They expanded what they were allowed to do to gather such information.

They expanded and made easy the process for getting wire-taps, setting up surveillance, streamlined the FISA Courts, etc.

It was a major overhaul of an intelligence apparatus that had been created over decades to deal with World War II and then the Cold War. They worked to “correct” a system decades in the making.

On October 26, 2001; only 45 days after 9-11, George Bush signed into law the USA Patriot Act of 2001.

Mind you, on October 24, 2001 it had passed the House 357 to 66, only a day after it was introduced by Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. The next day, October 25, 2001 it passed the Senate virtually unchanged 98 to 1. The only Senator to vote against was Democrat Russ Feingold.

Though there are varied estimates of how long the bill was, some say over 340 pages, most in Congress admitted they “didn’t have time to read” the bill before voting on it. The bill was rushed through a Republican House and Senate and signed by a Republican President while the pain of 9-11 still gripped the country. So despite some “weak” Democratic opposition, the bill was passed with no real input coming from the people it would impact the most, the citizens of the United States. No real hearings regarding the “unintended consequences” portions of the bill could create. Something had to be done and done quickly, so it was.

In the years that followed, as we fought our war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, as the Bush administration and Vice President Cheney lauded how terrorist acts were prevented due to the Patriot Act, most Americans accepted it. The pain from 9-11 was subsiding and since there had been no attacks, most thought maybe it was working. However, word began to seep through about some of the things the Patriot Act was doing. Those provision that impacted foreign terrorists nobody cared about. However, when it became known that FISA Courts were being bypassed for warrants to eavesdrop on international phone calls, scans of internet activities etc from the NSA, some started complaining. However, it actually got little attention because the people were content. Perhaps mainstream media thought it wasn’t all that “newsworthy” to spend time on. Some journalists looked into the matter, but very little of that got out to the public.

Much of the bill was set to “sunset” in 2005. Some argued that civil liberties were being violated and there were calls, mainly from the Senate for major changes. The Republican controlled House wanted to keep it intact. The two versions went to conference committee and most of the changes proposed in the Senate were removed. This got very little news coverage at the time. So the bill actually was reauthorized almost entirely intact from the original 2001 version and was signed into law by Bush again on March 9, 2006. Though more time was spent on it and more information about it was available to the public, little public outcry came from it. Again, there had been no additional terrorist attacks. The thing must have been working. It was during this time that the full extent of what the NSA was doing in terms of metadata gathering and storage first came to light. Few paid attention.

The revelations of it this year didn’t come seven years late, our notice of it came seven years late.

Although the Democrats took back control of the House and Senate in 2006 midterms, it really had very little to do from the public’s dissatisfaction with the Patriot Act. It was other issues that were being played in the mainstream media. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were of concern. The public didn’t vote the Republicans out because of the Patriot Act, because they still were purposefully ignorant to what it was doing. Even though the information was all out there for them to read and get an understanding that the Congress and the President had, with the consent of the people (due to not expressing anything opposing it) let the Genie out of the bottle. The groundwork was set into place. The government now had authorization to gather phone and internet information from all Americans. The information could be stored for future reference and investigation. This was set into place during the Bush Administration and with support from the Democrats. The American people appeared to have been willfully oblivious to what was happening.

In November 2008, due to the economic problems that country was aware of and expressed concern, Barack Obama was elected president with more seats going to Democrats in both the House and Senate. Not discussed during the campaign was the Patriot Act. Issues of terror were discussed. Closing down Gitmo was advocated by both Obama and McCain. Some talk about shutting down certain intelligence gathering operations on Americans were discussed and Obama was on record saying he would shut them down. But again, this got very little play in mainstream media. The people didn’t appear to really care all that much. They were focused on the collapsing economy and again, we hadn’t been attacked in over seven years, so maybe the Patriot Act was working and nobody was concern over what the government may be doing with their phone and internet information.

It wasn’t in the news because the news didn’t feel a need to report on it because few spoke out against it. Again, it wasn’t “newsworthy” even though the information was already out there for all to see.

The Patriot Act came up for reauthorization again. On May 26, 2011 President Obama signed the reauthorization of much of the original Patriot Act. He had a Democratic controlled Senate but a Republican Controlled House after the midterm beating he took in 2010.

Though this time more information was seeping out over the Patriot Act, few moderates and liberals showed up to vote in 2010 even though an increasing number of them were complaining about the intelligence gathering operation. Some said they would show Obama what they thought by not voting in the midterms, effectively handing the House back to the Republicans as well as state legislatures and governor offices across the Country. The GOP took this opportunity to start redistricting Congressional districts following the 2010 census to ensure they could keep the House.

However, still little coverage of what the NSA was doing under the authority granted it by the Patriot Act or the fact that although Obama did bring some civil liberty protections into play; he didn’t go as far as he had originally promised. Further, the Genie was out of the bottle and it is very difficult to put it back in when these intelligence agencies have been able to do it unchecked for now over 10 years.

When Greenwald “broke” the already broken story, those who actually paid attention about NSA wiretaps and heard the “revelations” from Edward Snowden, began to realize that this really wasn’t a new story. Some recalled it being revealed seven years earlier. It just didn’t get the play it should have.

Snowden and Greenwald did provide some details not previously available and some corroborating evidence. However, the overriding content of the story, that the NSA was gathering phone and internet records of US citizens and storing them for future reference was information already available for the public to know. Only now are they showing concern and expressing betrayal and anger. But why now and not sooner?

Many have focused anger and ridicule on Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden over the “leak” which really wasn’t a leak. By doing so they do take focus away from the core of the story.

However, in my opinion the story isn’t that the NSA is spying on us; it’s that we as a society have allowed them to do it unchecked for over seven years and only now are starting to take notice.

Greenwald and Snowden are easy targets. They are both narcissistic and more concern for being noticed than effecting positive change in the world. They are perfect Libertarians, out in it for themselves, not others. They both have skeletons in their closet. If the NSA story was to have come out (again) it would have been better to have some professional and seasoned, ethical “journalists” present the full story to the public. Not these two. Then the focus would have been not that “we suddenly found out the NSA was spying” but the reality that we’ve allowed the NSA to spy on us for seven years.

The problem my friends lie with us. United States Citizenry is not a spectator’s sport. You must be active and knowledgeable about what is happening on the field at all times. You must also then take appropriate actions to effect the course of the game that will give you and your nation the win it deserves.

If you do not pay attention to what your elected officials are doing in your name and hold them accountable, they feel free to do whatever they wish, or whatever their funding sources tell them to do. It’s simple, if they do right, let them know, if they do wrong, really let them know. Then most importantly, vote.

Not paying attention, not letting your elected officials know you are paying attention and will vote accordingly is forfeiting your rights as an US Citizen to someone who owes allegiance to those who have only themselves and their profit margins to be concerned over.

The rich and the corporations may have the money, but you have the votes. You also have the ability to see through what mainstream media is or isn’t telling you by doing some simple research and making some simple deductions. You may not always be right, the information you pull could be wrong or incomplete, but it still puts you in a better place to be aware about what is happening, how it impacts you, your family and friends and the nation as a whole. And with that information, unless you vote, you are wasting your time.

2014 is nearing. Who we elect to office will determine where our government surveillance is going. They will also determine our banking system, corporate regulations, infrastructure, your rights, your choice, your freedom, your privacy.

Voting is not only a right, it’s a responsibility. Get off the bench, learn the game, study the playbook and vote. Otherwise, the few who do vote will keep those in office that will continue to use government services like the NSA to infringe on your privacy.

If you’re not active in politics you only have yourself to blame for the outcome.