Saturday, May 29, 2010

War and Memory

Memorial Day, 1970: I was soldier in Vietnam. By 1970, almost 48,000 American soldiers had been killed. Anti-war protests were wide-spread and growing in number as the protesters were attempting to wake up the nation and stop the war.

Memorial Day, 2010: 4404 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq; 1000 Americans have died in Afghanistan. And the nation sleeps.

This Memorial Day, politicians across the country will spout words about heroes, sacrifice, and patriotism, then return to their divisive partisan politics while the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan continues on its bloody way. This Memorial Day will be just another way for businesses to lure shoppers into their stores for “Memorial Day discounts.” Some will advertise discounts in “honor” of those who have given their lives. How does shopping “honor” a soldier? As soldiers in Afghanistan have said “We’re fighting a war while America is at the mall.”

The root of “memorial” means “memory,” and “preserving remembrance.” It is right and fitting that we celebrate those who fight, and have fought, for our nation. But if Memorial Day is only a momentary look at our past, then it is worth little. If the celebrations do not cause us to consider, and question, the actions of our government and how our soldiers are currently being used, then they mean no more than the smoke that disappears in the aftermath of an IED explosion.

“So,” you might ask, “what is the best way to support the troops?” Do what you can to first rouse yourself, then wake up our sleeping nation. Must we be fighting an endless war (as the Bush administration liked to call it)? How many more of our sons and daughters in uniform must die before, as in Vietnam, we say “enough” and withdraw our troops?

I believe the best way to support our troops is to bring them home. But whatever your answer might be, don’t forget them or their families now or after they come home. Coming home is hard. A soldier returning from a war zone faces tensions and conflicts as he or she tries to move back into civilian life. But the new veteran has to learn that there is no going back; war changes those who fight, and life changes those who wait for the soldier’s return.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

What Dave Camp Voted No On in Health Care Insurance Reform

Representative Dave Camp. The Dave Camp who voted for every budget, every unfunded "emergency appropriation" to support the war that George Bush asked for, the same Dave Camp who enabled Bush to leave a deficit for fiscal 2009 of  $1.4 trillion, yes, that Dave Camp was so upset about Obama increasing the deficit that he declared that health care reform was the wrong reform at the wrong time would cost too much.  
Here is what Dave Camp voted "no" on (courtesy of 
1. Once reform is fully implemented, over 95% of Americans will have health insurance coverage, including 32 million who are currently uninsured.2
2. Health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny people coverage because of preexisting conditions—or to drop coverage when people become sick.3
3. Just like members of Congress, individuals and small businesses who can't afford to purchase insurance on their own will be able to pool together and choose from a variety of competing plans with lower premiums.4
4. Reform will cut the federal budget deficit by $138 billion over the next ten years, and a whopping $1.2 trillion in the following ten years.5
5. Health care will be more affordable for families and small businesses thanks to new tax credits, subsidies, and other assistance—paid for largely by taxing insurance companies, drug companies, and the very wealthiest Americans.6
6. Seniors on Medicare will pay less for their prescription drugs because the legislation closes the "donut hole" gap in existing coverage.7
7. By reducing health care costs for employers, reform will create or save more than 2.5 million jobs over the next decade.8
8. Medicaid will be expanded to offer health insurance coverage to an additional 16 million low-income people.9
9. Instead of losing coverage after they leave home or graduate from college, young adults will be able to remain on their families' insurance plans until age 26.10
10. Community health centers would receive an additional $11 billion, doubling the number of patients who can be treated regardless of their insurance or ability to pay.11

1. Final vote results on motion to concur in Senate amendments to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, March 21, 2010
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11. "Affordable Health Care for America: Summary," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 18, 2010
4. "Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer: Our Broken Health Insurance System," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Accessed March 22, 2010
5. "Affordable Health Care for America: Health Insurance Reform at a Glance: Revenue Provisions," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 18, 2010
8. "New Jobs Through Better Health Care," Center for American Progress, January 8, 2010
9, 10. "Proposed Changes in the Final Health Care Bill," The New York Times, March 22, 2010
11. "Affordable Health Care for America: Health Insurance Reform at a Glance: Addressing Health and Health Care Disparities," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 20, 2010

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