Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!!!

Greetings Comrades,

Just wanted to wish everyone a safe and happy 4th of July!  I've got to head out to join the festivities with my pals soon, but I thought I would post this little piece by Thom Hartmann, it's quite fitting for today:

Who Signed the Declaration of Independence

By Thom Hartmann

A dozen of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were politicians, doctors or ministers. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers. Ben Franklin was hard to define. I always called him the ADD one - 36 different careers in his life. He was in his 80s; Jefferson was 33 - about the average age - some of them were in their 20s.

The men who signed the Declaration of Independence were the most idealistic and determined among the colonists, while the conservatives of their day said America should remain a colony of England forever. These liberal radicals believed in both individual liberty and societal obligations; they were not Libertarian nutcases.

A nation must care for the lives of its own. Guaranteed liberty and ensure its citizens' happiness - a word in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution - a radical concept that had never before appeared in any nation's founding documents. The signers wrote in the Declaration, "We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." 

And it was a simple statement of fact. The day they signed that document each legally became a traitor and was sentenced to death for treason by the legal government that controlled their lands and their homes. As Ben Franklin pointed out, they stood at a point of no return, and "Indeed we must all hang together", he said, "Otherwise, we shall most assuredly hang separately." 

John Hancock signed his name. He said he was signing his name large enough that the king can read it without glasses and now double the reward. The reward, the king had put a £500 reward on John Hancock's head for sedition. What happened to John Hancock from signing the Declaration of Independence, just six months later his newborn daughter died from complications of childbirth arising from his wife's fleeing the oncoming British army. Although the richest of the founders, wealthy by the standards of the day, he would hardly qualify as rich by today's standards. 

He founded no dynasty. No foundation today dispenses money. John Hancock's legacy: our nation.

Robert Morris, who signed it, from Philadelphia, lost his entire shipping fleet, wiping out his modest fortune. Thomas Nelson of Virginia ordered his own home destroyed because it had been taken by General Cornwallis as headquarters. He died in poverty at the age of 50 as a result of signing the Declaration of Independence. William Ellery of Rhode Island lost everything as a result of signing the Declaration of Independence, as did Virginia's Carter Braxton, Benjamin Harrison, Pennsylvania's George Clymer, New York's Philip Livingston, Georgia's Lyman Hall, and New Jersey's Francis Hopkinson.

The British destroyed New York's Francis Lewis's property and threw his wife into such a hellhole of a jail that she died two years later. Three of South Carolina's four signers, Edward Rutledge Thomas Heyward, Jr. and Arthur Middleton were captured by the British and held in a filthy unheated prison and brutally tortured for over a year before George Washington freed them in a prisoner exchange. 
George Washington, who refused to allow the American soldiers to torture the British, he said we will not sink to their level.

New Jersey farmer John Hart's wife one died shortly after he signed the Declaration of Independence and his thirteen children were scattered among sympathetic families to hide them from conservative loyalists. He never saw them again, dying alone and wracked with grief 3 years later. 

Altogether seventeen of 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were entirely wiped out by the war they declared and died in poverty. New Jersey State Supreme Court Justice Richard Stockton took his wife and children into hiding after he signed the Declaration but conservatives loyal to the crown turned him in. He was so badly beaten and starved that he died in prison. His home was looted and his wife and children lived the rest of their lives as paupers.

Altogether nine of the men in that room died. Four lost all their children as a direct result of putting their names to the Declaration of Independence. Every single one had to flee his home and after the war 12 returned to find only rubble.

After the war was over and the conservatives had fled to Canada and England, the survivors of the new American nation met to put into final form the legal structure of the nation that they had just birthed.

It was not to be a nation of cynical selfish Libertarians who believe the highest value is "individual freedom and independence from society" where the greatest motivator was greed.

It was not to be a kingdom ruled by a warlord or leader.

It was not to be a theocracy where religious leaders made the rules as had been the case in several states, particularly Massachusetts.

And it was not to be a feudal nation ruled by the rich.

This new nation, the United States of America, founded as a result of the sacrifice that these men and women, these families, that today we can take back to its ideals as Benjamin Franklin told Philadelphia's Mrs. Powell as he was walking out of the constitutional convention after they had pulled together the Constitution in 1787. She said, "What sort of nation has been conceived?"

Ben Franklin: "It's a Republic, madam, if you can keep it".

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Progress on Healthcare

As the debate has been raging on about healthcare reform with many forces lining up to try and prevent any public option I'm pleased to see that it looks like some progress is being made in that respect.

Democrats have been working on a HELP (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions) committee bill to reform our broken healthcare system.  The first working version of this bill was a joke.  It cost over $1 trillion, HAD NO PUBLIC OPTION, and still left millions uninsured.  Though, it looks like thanks to some reliable polling showing overwhelming support for a public option, many Democrats have begun to realize that the time is now to get serious about this.  The Democrats on the HELP committee got to work on a much better package.  The new version of the HELP bill is almost half the price of the first, coming in at about $600 billion.  It INCLUDES A PUBLIC OPTION to compete against private insurers, and requires employers to pay a fee for each employee they have if the company does not provide insurance to their employees.  Businesses of 25 employees or less would not be subject to this provision, so no, this would not be an impediment to small business and local entrepreneurs.  Most importantly in my opinion, this bill would cover approximately 97% of all Americans.  Wow.

And better yet, all 13 Democrats on the HELP committee have pledged to vote for this bill.

I'm glad to see leaders in the Democratic Party responding to the wishes of the people and pursuing real healthcare reform with a strong public plan (too bad our actual majority leader is still a pussy).  We also have a great leader on this issue in Bernie Sanders, (I-VT).  Where Harry Reid doesn't have the balls to discuss how to effectively move progressive legislation through the Senate, Sanders does.

"I think that with Al Franken coming on board, you have effectively 60 Democrats in the caucus, 58 and two Independents," Sanders said in an interview with the Huffington Post. "I think the strategy should be to say, it doesn't take 60 votes to pass a piece of legislation. It takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster. I think the strategy should be that every Democrat, no matter whether or not they ultimately end up voting for the final bill, is to say we are going to vote together to stop a Republican filibuster. And if somebody who votes for that ends up saying, 'I'm not gonna vote for this bill, it's too radical, blah, blah, blah, that's fine.'"

"I think the idea of going to conservative Republicans, who are essentially representing the insurance companies and the drug companies, and watering down this bill substantially, rather than demanding we get 60 votes to stop the filibuster, I think that is a very wrong political strategy," Sanders added.

Sanders goes on to discuss the foolishness of caring too much about bi-partisanship.
"I think it would be great if we could have 100 senators voting for this, but what is important is the product that you get, not bipartisanship," Sanders went on. "So we should ask Republicans to support it. If they choose not to they do so at their own political risk. The focus should be on a strong bill trying to get Republican support rather than a weak bipartisan bill."
I think there has been some real movement on this issue in the last couple of weeks in terms of Democrats voicing their strong support for a public option.  This is good news.  But don't think for a second that because we gave the Democrats significant majorities in Congress, or because we put Obama in the White House, that this problem is going to solve itself.  The insurance companies are going to do everything in their power to stop this, and all we can really do--what we must do--is call and write our representatives, and the president, until they're sick of hearing from us, and tell them that we will not settle for any candyass bipartisan bill that doesn't create any real change, and real change includes a public plan.

There are a few conservative Democrats who are on the fence, or may oppose such a plan.  But like Sanders say, that's tolerable as long as they are pressured into voting for cloture and not going along with any Republican filibuster.

So get on the phone with your representatives, and let's make this happen!

Democratic Senators Against the Public Option:

Sen Mary Landrieu D LA 
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? No 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-5824 | Fax: 202-224-9735
Web: http://landrieu.senate.gov/ 


Democratic Senators Undecided on the Public Option:

Sen Evan Bayh D IN   ...All Indiana Students, even if you're from out of state, this is YOUR Senator! Call him!!!
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-5623 | Fax: 202-228-1377


Sen Max Baucus D MT
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2651 | Fax: 202-224-0515

Sen Mark Begich D AK
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-3004 | Fax: 
Web: http://begich.senate.gov 
Sen Michael Bennet D CO
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-5852 | Fax: 
Web: http://bennet.senate.gov 
Sen Robert Byrd D WV
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-3954 | Fax: 202-228-0002
Web: http://byrd.senate.gov 
Sen Maria Cantwell D WA
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-3441 | Fax: 202-228-0514
Web: http://cantwell.senate.gov 
Sen Thomas Carper D DE
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2441 | Fax: 202-228-2190
Web: http://carper.senate.gov 
Sen Kent Conrad D ND
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2043 | Fax: 202-224-7776
Web: http://conrad.senate.gov 
Sen Byron Dorgan D ND
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2551 | Fax: 202-224-1193
Web: http://dorgan.senate.gov 
Sen Dianne Feinstein D CA    ...What the hell, Senator!?!  You're from freak'n California!!!  Get with the program!
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-3841 | Fax: 202-228-3954
Web: http://feinstein.senate.gov 
Sen Blanche Lincoln D AR
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-4843 | Fax: 202-228-1371
Web: http://lincoln.senate.gov/ 
Sen Bill Nelson D FL
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-5274 | Fax: 202-228-2183
Web: http://billnelson.senate.gov/ 
Sen E. Benjamin Nelson D NE
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-6551 | Fax: 202-228-0012
Web: http://bennelson.senate.gov/ 
Sen Mark Pryor D AR
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2353 | Fax: 202-228-0908
Web: http://pryor.senate.gov 
Sen Harry Reid D NV
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-3542 | Fax: 202-224-7327
Web: http://reid.senate.gov/ 
Sen Jon Tester D MT
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2644 | Fax: 202-224-8594
Web: http://tester.senate.gov/ 
Sen Mark Udall D CO
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-5941 | Fax: 202-226-7840
Web: http://markudall.senate.gov 
Sen Mark Warner D VA
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-2023 | Fax: 202-224-6295
Web: http://warner.senate.gov 
Sen Ron Wyden D OR
Supports the choice of public Healthcare option? Don't know 
Contact information:
Phone: 202-224-5244 | Fax: 202-228-2717
Web: http://wyden.senate.gov/ 
Update:
Just removed Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) from this list, she is on the HELP committee and is now public with her support for the public option.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Evening Tunes

As you're all relaxing on this warm summer evening, here's a fitting video for your enjoyment.


Sure, I poked fun at everyone in the last post, but clearly this guy was a major influence on society. This hilarious/disturbing video that I'm sure many of you have seen proves the level of MJ's celebrity perfectly. Beats making license plates, I guess.

Sunday Funday!

There was so much insanity in the news this week it makes doing a Sunday Funday feature almost redundant as one can really just skim the week's headlines for endless inspiration for laughter or tears.  

My better angels are advising me not to go there, but this is what I have to say to that:
Yes, it's been a bad week to be famous/infamous.  First, the passing of our beloved Farrah, immediately followed by the King of Pop/Everybody's favorite babysitter, and then Billy... yes, Billy Mays!  Say it ain't so!  When I do laundry later this evening I'm going to pour an extra cup of OxiClean in the wash for our fallen homie.  Oh... and did I mention it was discovered this week that the Governor of South Carolina is an outcall escort, or something like that? 

Rest in Peace, celebrities I haven't heard of in years.  Oh, btw, anyone hear what's been going on in Iran while all these super cool people were dying?  Yeeeah...

Many Sundays we feature the ever hilarious Marry-Bone-Kill survey, where you're given three awkward choices and you have to decide who you would marry, sleep with, or kill.  (To choose marry, means you'll never sleep with them, and to choose bone, means just one isolated night of hot sleazy passion, so no, you can't kill two birds with one stone when you choose "marry").  

Given this week's trifecta of tragedy I was thinking maybe an MBK necrophilia edition?  But no, that's too tasteless even for me... So instead, since it's the Lord's day and all, and to give one tiny ounce of respect to the deceased, this week's contest is now Marry-Bone-Kill-Resurrect!!!  That's right.  Rather than choosing to off one of this week's contestants, you get to choose who you'd rather Marry, Bone (both assuming the contestants were still alive) AND who you would choose to resurrect given the actual circumstances.  

The contestants:




So there it is... Have at it.  Your choices (with explanations to your reasoning) are much appreciated in the comments.  Have fun!  And meanwhile, I think maybe I'll go find a confessional...

UPDATE: We're sorry Ed, you are not forgotten!!!