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Archive for September, 2009

A Word About Our Focus on Health Care Reform

Friday, September 18th, 2009

RedCrossNurseLevee-lovin’, tree-huggin’ as ever

As our regular readers will have noticed, we’ve lately been focusing most of our energies on helping the campaign for health care reform. This is part of our mission: since Katrina we’ve been pushing Congress and the White House for more generous funding for social services such as medicine, housing, and education for the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and particularly the renovation and reopening of Charity Hospital in New Orleans. Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten the fragile wetlands that want care and feeding, or the chronic need for robust storm protection and flood prevention infrastructure. But the burning issue of the day is health care reform. The same forces arrayed against expansion of health coverage are those voting against infrastructure spending (remember the Stimulus fight?) and, generally, those most resistant to winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (See former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski talking about Afghanistan with Rachel Maddow.)

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Scenes from a Health Reform Phone Bank

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

happyphone2The setting: The living room of a volunteer’s apartment in Manhattan.

The action: A night of phoning voters, mostly Obama supporters, in Florida, Indiana, and Virginia. Many wrong or disconnected numbers, or no one home (so we leave messages).

“Hello, my name is —. I’m a grassroots volunteer with Organizing for America and we’re helping President Obama pass health care reform this year. We’re not asking for money, but would just like to ask your opinion, please . . .”

The question we ask is, Do you support health care reform with a strong public option? We don’t assume people know exactly what the public option is, but help them along (“as you probably know . . .”) and briefly compare it to expanding Medicare for people under 65. It’s just an additional option at a lower cost than private plans. If you’re happy with what you’ve got, there’s no need to change . . .

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“No Way” Rockefeller Will Support Baucus Plan

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

20070201_rnn_m97_103.jpgSenator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) announced this afternoon that “there is no way” he could support the health care reform plan drafted by Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and his “(Bipartisan) Gang of Six” to be presented tomorrow, Weds. Sept. 16. Senator Rockefeller said in a conference call with reporters:

The way it is right now, now we have an amendment process coming up next week. I’ll have many, many, many amendments and we will see what happens on that. But now, there is no way that I can vote for the Senate package. For a lot of reasons. Obviously the lack of a public option is one of them. So that I want to be very clear about.

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Robert Reich on the Public Option
And How to Make It Happen

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

“Unless you make a helluva racket” the status quo is going to win this thing.

Former labor secretary Robert Reich explains the basic idea of the public option and urges everyone to pitch in to make it happen—Yes We Can—because we’re now in the final sprint.

Make your voices heard.

“Write, phone, and e-mail the president and your representatives in Congress. And mobilize and energize your friends and relatives and neighbors to join you.”

White House emailcomments@whitehouse.gov
White House phone: 202-456-1111

Click here for Robert Reich’s blog (he’s one of our heroes). Reich is a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley.



Viva Burlesque!

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

N.O.burlesqueWill you pardon us while we take a break from being all-serious all the time?

This weekend, Sept. 11-13, The City That Care Forgot hosts the first annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival, which we hope will be the first of many to come. Featuring Foxy Flambeaux, Praline Dupree, and, yes, Dominic Moncada (“Bustout Burlesque’s eye-candy for the ladies”).

In the Festival’s own words (we couldn’t say it better):

The New Orleans Burlesque Festival (Sept. 11-13, 2009) is the first burlesque festival devoted to classic and traditional burlesque. The festival will pair glamorous and talented striptease dancers with live traditional jazz music, the way it was done in nightclubs during the glory days of burlesque. We’ll assemble some of the best eye-popping burlesque dancers in the world to perform over three nights in sultry New Orleans. Comic emcees, singers, and variety acts flesh out the shows to provide the most entertaining and classiest risqué showcases you’ll ever see. Fun and educational daytime activities for performers and enthusiasts of burlesque are spread over the three days. Celebrate this classic form of adult entertainment that made Bourbon Street famous worldwide!

Yet another reason why New Orleans must be protected by any and all means!



Senator Kennedy’s Letter to President Obama

Friday, September 11th, 2009

LNW_Obama-Kennedy-250x193Below is the text of the letter from Senator Edward M. Kennedy referenced by the President in tonight’s address to a Joint Session of Congress.

May 12, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me – and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

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Warming Up for Obama

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Senators: Support Public Option, Kennedy’s HELP Committee Plan

UScapitolTonight President Obama gives a rather important speech to a joint session of Congress. To say we wish him well would be an understatement. We spent most of the day warming up his audience by faxing and mailing letters to the Democratic senators, starting with Harry Reid (he got his own personalized letter because he’s the Majority Leader). Here are some excerpts. It’s not “Obama’s English,” but we do our best.

To Senator Reid:

. . . support a strong public option: authentic health care reform that will cover all Americans and will give voters a reason to “vote Democrat” for generations to come. We don’t want co-ops and we don’t want “triggers.” . . . What we really want is a single-payer system that’s easy to understand—a Medicare-for-all bill. Why was that never on the table? We agree with the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s call for a public option built on the Medicare provider system, with reimbursement based on Medicare rates—not negotiated rates.

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Does Believing in Social Contract Make Us Socialists? Then So Be It.

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Learning What We’re Up Against, and How to Carry On

LoveCountryIf we’re learning anything from the messy struggles for health care reform and the passage of the stimulus bill back in February (how long ago that feels!)—and it’s far from clear whether anyone is learning anything—it could be that anyone seeking to improve the conditions of life for one’s fellow citizens is in for a real (endless) struggle. Okay, we already knew that, but now we find that if we start getting organized and gaining any traction, we’re in for a fight against not only powerful entrenched well-funded interests, but also their artificial grass-roots (“astroturf”) campaigns that stir up already nervous, agitated citizens to vent outrage against socialism in the White House and government takeovers of Medicare, among other threats to the republic.

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