Tuesday, November 19, 2013

150th Anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Historic "Gettysburg Address"

President Abraham Lincoln

Quite a monumental day in our American History, I would have to say.  So what have we learned as individuals, as a nation, since this historic day?  I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would honestly have to say, with respect racial equality, about where we are as a nation today? Definitely something worthy of thinking further on, would you not agree?

It was interesting to me to be reminded on this day, the 150th Anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s historical “Gettysburg Address”, that it was the Republican party, led by a Republican President who tirelessly and fearlessly led the charge that ultimately put an end to slavery in our nation. Lincoln's words remind us that those who fought to end slavery were willing to pay the highest price, laying their very lives on the line in a self-less sacrifice with both white and black –in fact, many different races-- fighting side by side in order to achieve the final victory of an end to slavery in our nation.  President Lincoln continues on to make his most important point: that to lose sight of the high cost which was paid, in order to achieve freedom for all, is to dishonor those who have given their own lives in order to achieve this noble end:  "That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." ~Abraham Lincoln

Upon reflection, I think this 150th Anniversary should serve as a reminder for all us to revisit the truth of our history*, as a nation, as well as a call to recognize that it is ultimately actions which produce results, speaking louder than any mere rhetoric in a war of perception fueled by unsubstantiated words. Perhaps instead of making blanket statements, such as those recently made by Oprah Winfrey to the British media, those in a position with the ‘pulpit’ to do so would do better to address specific incidents –on a case by case basis, starting with the highest profile-- of abuse and disrespect toward President Obama, calling the perpetrators out by name with actual facts/statements to back up their claims. Perhaps then we could truly begin to make some meaningful progress toward the legitimate end of addressing the many problems currently plaguing our nation and its citizenry.

For more interesting reading on this historic day in our American History please visit: 


and  a special documentary put together by Ken Burns at "Learn the Address.org"

[* Among those truths, we find the following rather interesting facts:
1) The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which abolished slavery passed by a vote of 100% Republicans in favor, but only 22% Democrats were in favor of this amendment.

2) The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which proclaimed that free-slaves (African-Americans) were now full-fledged citizens of the United States of America passed by a vote of 100% Republicans in favor, but with 0% (not a single one!) of Democrats in support of this amendment.

3) The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which unequivocally gave African-Americans the right to vote in our U.S. elections passed by a vote of 100% Republicans in favor, but again with 0% (not a single one!) of Democrats in support of this amendment. 

... And just in case you were wondering: Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.]  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veterans Day 2013!!

I was speaking with a veteran today as he reminisced about his time of military service.  Somewhere along the way, he reflected --comparing his life then to now—“You know, most people will never fully understand what the men and women who sign up to serve in our military give up … The freedoms they have to temporarily surrender, the sacrifices they are willing to make in order to protect the freedoms everyone in our nation enjoys today … Freedoms most people flat-out take for granted.” 

And you know, this veteran is probably right; sad but true are his words.  I for my part, however, having grown-up in a military family do happen to know firsthand what life in a military family is like, the sacrifices that the men and women in our military make … the sacrifices the families of military members make.  I remember most of all the year my father was sent to work overseas for a full year, without leave.  I distinctly remember how hard my father’s absence was on my mother, having to be a single parent while worrying about the safety of her husband.  My father’s year of overseas duty was hard on all of us in different ways.  I remember wondering sometimes, myself, if he would in truth ever come back home to us again.  But my father did eventually come back home, walking on two legs, with open arms to hug and hold.  That was a surreal day for me.  I can still see my father’s homecoming vividly in my mind, as if it had happened only yesterday.  I suppose that is why I am always seem to find gentle tears seeping from my eyes when I witness a father, or mother for that matter, being reunited with his/her children and family on television, or in person --we have gone to a few of the welcome our troops home rallies at airports.  So God Bless them, one and all:  the men and women who serve today, those who have served in the past and especially the families --children, wives, spouses and all-- that love and support our service men and women.  As a nation, we are ever grateful not only for your service, but for your many sacrifices.  You are the biggest part of what keeps our nation strong and allows our hard-won freedoms and American way of life to endure.  God Bless our veterans and God Bless the U.S.A!!

P.S. And may God Bless those impacted by the powerful typhoon that struck the Philippine Islands over this past weekend!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

How's HOPE Working for You Now?

"If you like your health insurance plan, then you can keep
your plan.  If you like your doctor: you'll be able 
to keep your doctor."

That "Hope" thing not working so well for you these days? Lucky for you, your opportunity to enact meaningful change is rapidly up & coming: this Tuesday, Nov. 5th, at your nearby polling station: Your VOTE has the potential to usher in some serious> CHANGE!! Out with the old, ineffective, non-representative, and in with the new.  Time to restore true accountability in government once again, I think.

Personally, I'm hoping to see  a lot of INFORMED voters at U.S. polling stations this upcoming Tuesday!*

==> For me "Change" is going to equal a VOTE FOR MANY REPUBLICANS.<==
(*Unfortunately, the mid-term elections for Congressional seats won't be until Nov. 2014.  That's when REAL CHANGE can occur!)

You know, if nothing else comes out this entire healthcare law fiasco:  I would hope that our lawmakers have learned never again to pass any law without first knowing "what is in the law" (i.e., the important details of the law --like the fact that millions of Americans would likely lose their existing healthcare insurance coverage under a new set of bogus* health insurance standards).  Furthermore, it is my sincerest hope that the voting citizens of this nation will from this point moving forward hold their congressmen (and women) to the latter standard in the future.  That is to say if you don't know the details of what's going to be in a proposed law, then you (members of Congress) have no business whatsoever to move forward with said law's passing.  This has got to be one of most basic, common-sense tenants of elective representation.

It will be interesting to see if the number of people, previously "uninsured", who actually opt to sign up for healthcare plans on the Obama-care exchanges --as opposed to paying the nominal penalty for declining insurance coverage-- actually winds up coming close to the number of people who previously had affordable coverage prior to ACHA and wind up losing their coverage.  Will also be interesting to see how rapidly the quality of healthcare in America declines in response to the large influx into a system ill-equipped to handle this influx. Socialized medicine here we come?
[* Like a 60 year-old woman needs maternity coverage? Or even more outrageous: a 60 year-old man's individual policy  --or any man for that matter-- needs maternity coverage? And people with grown or no children need pediatric coverage? We're not all stupid you know:  these ridiculous standards had to be 'added to the law' via back channels, in 2010, after passage of the initial AHCA healthcare law in order to create (thereby forcing insurance companies which offered policies that did not include the latter types of coverage to cancel said policies for being supposedly 'sub-standard') the large and varied exchange pool needed in order to make this AHCA system capable of having any real chance of working.  The upgrade to these 'new standards' was deemed necessary by the administration so that insurers would be forced to cancel existing policies, thereby forcing more people (i.e., young and healthy individuals, with stream-lined, low-cost existing coverage plans) into the exchanges for Obama-care plans.  The latter would, in theory, work to keep the overall costs down for everyone participating in the exchange pools.  Also keep in mind, if an insurer made any change to an existing plan after the 2010 passage of AHCA (even a change as simple as a $5.00 increase in the required patient co-payment for medical services) then that plan would be required to be cancelled per the CMS directive as well.  The problem is these 'new standards' were not implemented by means of standard congressional channels.  They were written and implemented after the initial law was passed by Congress (late in 2010), by means CMS directives written by the Health and Human Services Secretary.  Furthermore, the information regarding the grounds for health insurance policy terminations was not given directly to most members of Congress or to the general public until now: during the implementation of the actual 'mandated' phase of the law --in October 2013, as the 'individual mandate', with the 'employer mandate' implementation phase to begin in October 2014 due an executive order delay issued by President Obama.  

The above is why we have the present chaos unraveling with respect to 5 million++ (and climbing daily!) Americans losing their individual healthcare plans (and these are just the preliminary numbers for people losing plans in the 'individual' market, some analysts predict these individual numbers will pale in comparison to the number of people losing group plan insurance plan coverage when the employer mandate kicks in next year.  Experts estimate the number of people likely to lose healthcare coverage when group plans are cancelled, next October 2014, may well exceed 50 million people losing coverage.  And we should keep in mind that all of these cancelled plan policy holders were repeatedly promised by the President himself, members of his administration and by Democratic members of Congress that they would be able "to keep their plan if they liked their plan" ... But sadly, now these poor people are scrambling to try to find new coverage --during the holiday season no less-- while having to contend with a ticking clock as this year draws to a close and in many cases trying to find new healthcare providers as many doctors are not participating in the exchange plan networks, and bonus: the federal healthcare exchange website is still not yet fully functional or secure. I guess, it's up to you to decide, for yourself, whether such a glaring omission of fact constitutes an outright lie. 

11/15/2013 Despite the questionable constitutionality of his statement today, it appears as if the President has issued a new CMS directive allowing insurers to re-instate their cancelled policies for an additional year.  Of course most State Insurance Commissioners, if not the actual insurance companies themselves, will likely challenge this directive for obvious logistical, legal and cost reasons.  Thus it would appear as if the President and his administration are likely hoping to merely shift the blame from themselves onto the insurance companies, without providing any real substantive help to people who have had their health insurance policies cancelled (and they can't get new policies because the government-run websites aren't yet fully functional! And bonus, new policies via the exchange with new standards will likely cost more than the policies they will replace in most instances) :  the net result being the exchange pools will likely have a better shot at attaining the large and varied --w.r.t. to age and health (i.e. young and healthy)-- numbers of enrollees necessary to make the exchanges actually work.  In sum, the people who have lost healthcare policies effective Jan. 1, 2014 are simply 'acceptable casualties of war' (an ideological war) in the eyes of the Obama administration. And don't feel too bad for the insurance companies either, who will now likely shoulder the majority of the blame for cancellation of policies: if you read a little further on down into the CMS directive, you will see that the insurance companies will be getting some hefty subsidies which should more than make any up shortfalls in their revenue or perceived damage to their reputations moving forward.]