Fixing Obamacare



When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law six years ago, it was a historic achievement, but it was based on a bargain that has not been kept.

President Obama did not have the support in Congress for a government-run health care system. Even some of his own Democrats opposed that proposal. So he got what he could – a deal with the health insurance and pharmaceutical giants.

The quid pro quo was more customers for health insurers in exchange for the insurance companies’ cooperation. He also anticipated that drug companies would adopt responsible pricing policies.

Clearly, the bargain has been broken. Some big insurance companies have not supported the state exchanges. Some drug prices are anything but responsible.

And that is a major reason for rising enrollment costs.

Of course it wasn’t just the health insurance giants and Big Pharma that sabotaged Obamacare. Republicans – members of Congress, governors and legislatures – overwhelmingly rejected it.

Yet, despite the rabid opposition in red states and in Congress, the law has provided health insurance coverage to some 20 million people, many with preexisting issues, who were not previously covered.

But there’s work to be done. Minda Wilson, author of “Urgent Care, Ten Cures for America’s Ailing Health Care System,” sums up the  situation this way:

With the Affordable Care Act in its current state, the working poor are better off but hospitals lose; doctors lose and the Middle Class really loses. And, you guessed it, Big Pharma and big insurance are the big winners.

And the President conceded when the law was passed:

This legislation will not fix everything that ails our health care system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction.

To me, the ultimate goal should be expansion of Medicare to include all Americans, And the private insurers could be given an opportunity to compete against – or participate in – the new system (as they do with Medicare Advantage).

But I can only imagine the fierce opposition any such plan would provoke among Republicans.

Ever the realist, Hillary Clinton details on her web site proposals to “fix” Obamacare. But even for modest reforms, she will need support in Congress.

For the sake of all Americans – healthy and sick – we can only hope the voters give her that support by sending Democrats to the House and Senate.

Hillary’s proposals

More on fixing Obamacare

More on the insurance giants  

More on Minda Wilson’s book

The law and Big Pharma


Yes!!! The Women are Voting!



Sandra and I just voted. Early voting in our part of Florida started yesterday. There was quite a crowd at the Polk County government complex on Parker Street, and I noticed something encouraging. There were a lot of women.

Old women, young women, middle-aged women, handicapped women, some barely able to drag themselves to the polls.

One woman wore a T-shirt with the message “In Memory of When I Cared.” Obviously, she still cares enough to vote even if she cares about nothing else.

I can only guess who these women voted for. And my guess is it was not Donald Trump. Yes, I know some of the older married women might be Trump supporters – or just voted for Trump to please their husbands. But I bet they were a small minority.

Trump made a fatal error when he teed off America’s women. They don’t just get mad, they get even.

It wasn’t just the tape of Trump boasting how he kissed and groped women at will. It wasn’t just the dozen women who came forward to refute his claim that he didn’t really do what he confessed on the tape, that it was just “locker room talk.”

It wasn’t just his way of ranking women from one to ten, based on their attractiveness to him.

It wasn’t just his habit of calling women “fat pigs” and “dogs,”  “disgusting” and “slobs.”

It wasn’t just his crass reference to his own daughter.  And it wasn’t just calling Hillary “such a nasty woman” in their final debate.

It was all of the above.

As Elizabeth Warren said recently:

I’ve got news for you, Donald Trump. Women have had it with guys like you. ..

Get this, Donald: Nasty women are tough, nasty women are smart, and nasty women vote…. We nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever.

Judging from the crowd at the polling station this morning, Ms. Warren hit the nail on the head.

And if there’s one thing that disqualifies Trump from ever being President, it’s his bad judgment in making women turn nasty.  As a married man – a much-married man –  he should have known how dumb that is.

Click for Warren’s speech.

More on women coting early


A “Progressive” No More?


I used to think of myself as a Progressive. I think the rich should help the poor, the strong should help the weak, the young should help the old, the law should protect us all equally…

I am totally in favor of a government-run health care system. I think utilities, insurance, criminal justice, the post office – all essential services – should never be entrusted to private interests.

I believe in cooperatives and profit sharing, trade unions and a government savings bank…

I think all nations should try to work together in harmony and mutual good will to create a peaceful and prosperous world. I abhor war.

I am convinced that government has a role to play in our lives but not in our bedrooms. People of all religions, all types of sexual orientation and all ethnic backgrounds are equal in my eyes and deserve equal protection, equal opportunity and an equal right to “the pursuit of happiness.”

But I do not expect to impose my views on everybody else.

And apparently that’s where I part company with the people who call themselves “progressives” today.

According to one writer, “progressives” are piqued by leaked emails accusing Hillary of calling them  “puritanical,” “pompous,” “naive,” “radical” and “dumb.”  They plan to make her presidency “a living hell.”

That’s my cue to exit the “progressive” ranks.

Goodbye MoveOn, good-bye all the other “movements” that pester me for money and, in return, promise to change society to my liking.

It seems you are too dumb to do that.

You don’t change people’s minds by making their lives hell. You don’t win arguments by intimidation and force. Ranting and badgering might make you feel better, but it only drives other folks away.

Arguments are won by persuasion. Societies are changed by setting a good example.

As some unheralded philosopher noted a long time ago:

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

And democracy can work only through compromise. In a government “by the people,” you cannot reasonably expect everybody else to agree with you all the time. That’s just not going to happen

Hillary is aware of this. And she knows she has to give a little to get a little. She gets things done that way. Your way just makes people mad at you, and they will oppose you even more stubbornly.

Read the article.


Inheriting a Hornet’s Nest


As  the nastiest election campaign in US history mercifully comes to an end, I am left wondering how much damage has been done to the political system and what can be done to fix it.

It looks as if Hillary will be President, and the Democrats will pick up seats in Congress. But that doesn’t mean she will be able to do all of the things she has promised.

Senator John McCain, for example, has vowed that Republican senators will block any Supreme Court appointment she makes. Obviously it’s going to be business as usual in Congress.

In 2008 Barack Obama had majorities in both chambers but found out that some politicians who ran as Democrats were not willing to support the party platform. The resulting gridlock was disastrous.

And it grew worse as Tea Party Republicans gained power in Washington. The result was the worst Congress ever.

Vowing to block any and all of the President’s initiatives Republicans used the senate filibuster and every other tactic at their disposal to pursue this strategy.  The nation’s business was neglected as partisan politics paralyzed government.

Misinformed and disinformed by a rabid right-wing propaganda machine, a wide swath of the population became enraged at the very people who were trying to help them and sided with the schemers who were gaming the system for their own profit.

The propagandists used wedge issues like abortion to divide the populace. They provoked such primitive instincts as racial prejudice and religious bigotry to set Americans against each other. And they exaggerated the threat of terrorism to create widespread fear and mistrust.

President Obama was able to achieve remarkable progress in the face of this diabolical opposition, but, in the process, a significant part of the American population turned against him. These people are Donald Trump’s supporters, and they will not accept Trump’s defeat gracefully.

America’s first female President will inherit a hornet’s nest.

It will take all of her formidable intellectual powers to restore reason and good government in Washington. But I am confident she will find a way.

In a lifetime of public service, she has shown remarkable skill in dealing with complex challenges. And you know she never gives up.


The Truth about Abortion



No doubt about it, abortion can be a grisly business. But it is a fact of life. Sometimes the mother’s health – even her life – is at risk. Sometimes the fetus is damaged beyond repair. Sometimes the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. And sometimes a woman simply does not want to give birth for reasons of her own.

And nothing is going to stop her from having an abortion.

So should she have to rely on a back-alley quack? Or should she have access to safe and sanitary facilities?

As a young reporter back in the days before abortion was legal, I was horrified by the tragedies I encountered as girls and women submitted to the butchery of coat-hanger wielding abortionists.

This alone justifies legalization of abortion as far as I am concerned.

But it does not answer the underlying question. Should the termination of a pregnancy be a matter for government regulation?

Or should it be up to the woman, her doctor and her conscience?

In Wednesday’s presidential debate, Hillary Clinton made the most forthright defense of a woman’s right to choose that I have ever heard.

Here’s the punch line:

I can tell you the government has no business in the decisions that women make with their families in accordance with their faith and with medical advice, and I will stand up for that right.

When you think about it, that’s the real line in the sand.

As I watched Hillary sitting next to Cardinal Timothy Dolan at last night’s Al Smith memorial banquet (photo above), I wondered what the Catholic priest must be thinking. And it occurred to me that his views should matter to Catholics but they should not be imposed on non-Catholics by government edict.

It is totally understandable for your religion to dictate what you do with your body, but it is not reasonable for your religion to dictate what some other person does with their body.

Under the Constitution every American has the right to liberty. And to the privacy they need to enjoy that liberty. That’s the bottom line.

More on Hillary’s stand


Trump’s Last Hurrah

trumpTrump went out swinging, leaving one last headline as the epitaph for his bizarre campaign. I haven’t read the papers but I bet they will all be agog over his refusal to say he will accept the election’s result if he loses.

An insult to our democracy, the pundits at MSNBC and CNN declared. Unprecedented. Shocking. And so on.

OK. But what else do you expect from Trump?

He never changes his spots. He lives to create headlines. But not to worry. Trump will accept his spanking like a surly schoolboy. There won’t be pitchforks in the street, after all. This is America, not some benighted backwoods country.

If you saw the debate, you don’t need me to tell you what went on. If not, you most likely don’t care. But I can’t resist making a few observations.

Why does he sniff like that? And he’s the one advocating a pre-debate drug test?

And why does he hate women?

You don’t believe me?

Think about that last ugly gasp of his:

Such a nasty woman!!

Not nasty person. Nasty woman. And you heard the venom with which he spat out “woman.”

If there was still some woman somewhere who was still planning to vote for the man, I bet that changed her mind.

Yes, I know he will get the single-issue voters who want a Supreme Court that will make abortion illegal again. And he will get some dummies who don’t know it was the Republican Party that gave us free trade.

But I think last night’s debate sealed the deal: This will be the biggest landslide since Goldwater. America is about to welcome its first woman President.


Why Have Another Debate?



I dread tonight’s “debate.” And I wonder why we the people are being subjected to another of these slugfests.

Surely we know by now what the candidates think of each other?

In a word, Hillary considers Trump “unfit.”

Trump views Hillary as “crooked.”

Do we really need to rehash Trump’s sleazy sexual history? Haven’t we heard all we want to hear about Hillary’s emails?

Does it matter what they say tonight? As the old people say in Jamaica, “words are wind.”

If they do get around to discussing actual policies, you know they’ll just be daydreaming.

Even when one of them becomes President, as one of them will, they must persuade Congress to pass the laws they keep promising. And good luck with that!

You and I know Trump’s promises are just background noise, anyway. His policies shift like a straw in the wind, varying wildly from day to day. If he were to level with us, he would just say he’ll do whatever he feels like doing on the spur of the moment.

Of course whatever he does will be catastrophic. He’s that kind of guy.

I trust Hillary to be sane. I probably won’t agree with everything she does. But I know she will not plunge the world into nuclear war. She has grandchildren to worry about, and she didn’t trigger World War III as secretary of state.

Trump? Who knows what he will do? Cozy up to Putin probably. Slash taxes for the rich. Antagonize our allies around the world. Sabotage the global economy. Stumble into war. Choose a bunch of gangsters for his cabinet…

Is there anyone on earth who is still “undecided”? Americans are already voting in some states for Heaven’s sake!

Anuglyother debate is not only superfluous, it’s also dangerous. There’s an undertow of violence in this campaign. And demonstrations are planned at the debate’s venue tonight. The last thing America needs is more inflammatory rhetoric.

So why do we have to endure 90 more minutes of crazy talk? Why do we have to look at President Obama’s half brother dragged all the way from Kenya to do what? Why do we have to listen to Trump bellowing liar, liar?

Haven’t we had enough?

But, having said all this, you know I’ll be watching the debate tonight along with millions of others. I guess I’m a sucker for punishment.

Debate preview


Trump and the Mob. Again.




I keep seeing the sinister shadow of organized crime behind Donald Trump’s candidacy. So many of his surrogates have links to the mob. And his business associates include mob-linked oligarchs in Russia and the Ukraine.

And, of course, there’s his validated association with mobsters in his New York real estate developments and his casino deals.

Now, in Phoenix, Arizona, a newspaper that endorsed Hillary is being threatened by thugs.

don_bollesIf you’re old enough, you might remember Don Bolles (photo at right). He was an investigative reporter at the Arizona Republic who was murdered by criminals. Some thug taped six sticks of dynamite to the bottom of his car. The Mafia is suspected of ordering the hit.

That was 40 years ago.

This year, the Republic broke with 125 years of Republican endorsements and came out for Hillary Clinton.

Threats came pouring in.

parrish-2According to the Republic’s president Mi-Ai Parrish (at right), quoted in Yahoo News this morning:

One person threatened the lives of the paper’s journalists by suggesting they might die in a car bomb like Republic reporter Don Bolles had 40 years ago.

Others said they wanted the Republic to be shut down or burned down, or that that they wished it would cease operations under a new president. Some critics spit on or bullied young people selling subscriptions door-to-door. “Hacks,” “losers” and “un-American” were other insults hurled at the paper for not endorsing Trump.

Don’t you wonder who that “one person” is? The one who remembers Don Bolles after all this time, the one who threatens to do the same thing to the newspaper’s reporters now? I do.

The Yahoo News item

More on Don Bolles

More on Trump’s mob ties


Blaming Hillary for Everything



According to Trump and his acolytes, everything that has ever gone wrong in this world of ours is Hillary Clinton’s fault.

They blame her for intervening in Libya, but that was not really her idea. The Libyan invasion was NATO’s response to a UN resolution calling for an end to the massacre of civilians, which was considered “a crime against humanity.”

As a NATO member, the US was obliged to join the invasion, along with Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Spain and the UK. Hillary just happened to be America’s secretary of state at the time.

They blame her for the mess in Syria, which is the result of a popular uprising against a bloodthirsty despot, complicated by a behind-the-scenes power struggle featuring Russia and Iran vs Saudi Arabia, resurgence of an extremist Islamic movement and a regional religious war.

They blame her for Anthony Wiener’s sexts, for Trump’s tax avoidance, for Bill’s peccadillos, for the “Birther” lie, for anything and everything that has gone wrong in the world in the past half century.

They even blame her for NAFTA, and Trump keeps saying it was Bill who signed the hated trade agreement.

In fact, while Bill signed the agreement into law after he became President, it was George W. Bush who signed the agreement, along with Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

It was a Republican Congress that passed the law.

It’s the Republicans who have always promoted globalization, in order to benefit the corporations that fund their party. Trump would have zero chance of getting a Republican Congress to pass any law that got in the way of global free trade.

Like just about every word that comes out of Trump’s mouth, his promises to create jobs by imposing tariffs on imports and renegotiating trade pacts is hot air.

Photo above shows: Back row, left to right: Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, U.S. President George H. W. Bush, and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, at the initialing of the draft North American Free Trade Agreement in October 1992. In front are Mexican Secretary of Commerce and Industrial DevelopmentJaime Serra Puche, United States Trade Representative Carla Hills, and Canadian Minister of International Trade Michael Wilson.

The truth about NAFTA

The Syrian invasion


A Truly Great First Lady

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, sit for a family portrait in the Oval Office, Dec. 11, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.Ê

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia

As  the first black First Lady, Michelle Obama held the aspirations of a nation in her hands.

Her challenge: Be a lady yet be a force for dramatic and benevolent change.

And raise two young daughters under relentless scrutiny while doing that.

One misstep could have caused irreparable damage to the entire African American community. and dashed the dreams of millions around the globe.

She has met the challenge with flying colors.

This amazing woman is an exemplary role model not only for African American women and girls but also for all women and girls everywhere. An inspiration to boys and men, too.

No breath of scandal has tainted her years in the White House. No assault on her dignity has evoked an unladylike response. She has been the target of the basest kind of racism and vulgarity, yet she has held her head high.

Here’s how that achievement is described in an article by Matthew Dallek, associate professor at George Washington’s Graduate School of Political Management, which I read in Yahoo News this morning: