Gotta say. . .
When police officers or firefighters rescue people, we celebrate them as heroes. Elected officials are often doing the applauding.
Such recognition is well earned. Why? Because saving lives is critically important. Everyone knows it. In these contentious times, it's one of the few things people agree on. Celebrating our heroes is one of the few "safe" public actions an official can take. It's like celebrating moms and apple pie.
There are other ways to save lives, however. Other ways to be a hero. And, like rushing into a burning building, some of these take courage and put much at risk.
Consider: a 2014 statistical study of real-world outcomes from a Republican healthcare plan revealed a startling way to save lives. It found that for each 830 people who gained health coverage under this plan, one fewer person died each year, on average.
The researchers didn't study just a few people. They analyzed millions of records across multiple years.
It's like flipping a penny millions of times. We're confident the resulting statistic is valid because the sample size — the number of flips — is so large.
Same with this large healthcare study.
So the key finding is rock solid: for every 830 people who gain healthcare coverage, one man, woman or child really is saved from certain death each year.
Under Romneycare, the GOP plan that was studied, 400,000 people gained healthcare insurance who didn't have it before. Divide 400,000 by 830 and we get... nearly 500 people saved from certain death each year. Strictly because of Romneycare.
Those 500-or-so people are alive just as surely as if firefighters had rescued them from burning buildings.
The only difference: we don't know which 500 of the 400,000 people got to live, who would otherwise be dead today. We do know it was 500 rescued last year. Another 500 this year. Another 500 the year after that. And on and on.
Romneycare became the national model for Obamacare. If Republicans now repeal Obamacare and don't replace it with something equally effective, a lot more than 400,000 people will lose healthcare coverage. According to the Congressional budget office, it's 60 times more: 24,000,000 people will lose their health insurance.
Divide by 830 and we find that under ACA repeal, 29,000 people will die each year who would otherwise live — 29,000 men, women and children. They will perish just as surely as if we locked them in a house and set fire to it.
That is precisely how dead these people will be. But they can be rescued, every one of them, including (and especially) the children.
Our elected officials — our US senators and representatives — can rescue them, just as if these officials rushed into burning buildings and carried these children and other people to safety.
Given today's inflammatory politics, these officials might be placing themselves at considerable risk. Saving these people's lives could take a lot of courage.
So I don't envy these officials. But if firefighters at my neighborhood engine company can do it, our elected officials can darn well do it too.
And if they find the courage — and rescue lives by preventing ACA repeal (or equivalent loss of coverage effectiveness) — then we should celebrate them as heroes.
Right now, America needs real heroes. Which public officials will man up, meet the challenge, and grab the glory?
At left: Extreme-right US Rep. Ted Poe and his wildly gerrymandered TX-02 Congressional district.
At right: Remarkably similar shape of the original 1812 district that gave "gerrymandering" its name and reputation for blatant electoral corruption.
Ted Poe — extreme-right US Representative from the grotesquely gerrymandered Texas 2nd Congressional District, where I live — resigned today (3/26/17) from the so-called "House Freedom Caucus" because caucus members want to mass-murder more Americans than he does.
Rep. Poe insists on killing only 29,000 people annually by taking away their healthcare insurance. A study in the peer-reviewed Annals of Internal Medicine reveals that on average, for every 830 people who lose coverage, one will die each year.
The Congressional Budget Office on 3/13/17 announced that the GOP's repeal-and-replace law would mean 24 million fewer people would have healthcare coverage by 2026.
The numbers are relentless: 24 million people divided by 830 means 29,000 randomly chosen men, women and children would die each year, just from losing access to healthcare under the GOP's now-failed plan — a ghoulish lottery.
Yet Ted Poe is so gung-ho for mass-murdering these random 29,000 Americans — more than a quarter million people each decade — he quit the Freedom Caucus because its members opposed the plan. They want to repeal the ACA with no replacement. Their opposition helped kill the GOP law's chance of passage in the House.
The year ACA began, 2010, 49.9 million people in the US had no healthcare insurance. Today that number is down to about 29 million, still unconscionable and why we need the universal healthcare that neither Dems nor the GOP have offered.
Bernie Sanders, still America’s most popular politician, pushes hard for universal healthcare as a human right.
Back to the ghouls who rule. If the Congressional Freedom-to-Die Caucus got their way and the ACA were simply repealed, it would turn back the clock to 2010. Some 20 million additional Americans would lose healthcare coverage. Because of population growth, a total of well over 50 million people would then lack coverage today and even more by 2026.
The CBO performed its count differently, so it ended up with more body bags than we mention here. But that's beside the point. How many grieving, devastated families do we need to prove a point? From Ted Poe’s standpoint or that of the Freedom Caucus, the answer’s easy: hundreds of thousands.
One more thing.
As our illustration shows (top), Ghoul of the Week Ted Poe clings to power partly because the corrupt, GOP-dominated Texas state government handed him twisted territory: a wildly distorted Congressional district that gives Poe the “right” electoral demographics to stay in office.
That is why TX-02 closely resembles the original 1812 electoral district that gave gerrymandering its name and well-earned corrupt reputation. It makes a mockery of fair elections and true democracy.
Along with widespread voter suppression, it’s how We the People end up with ghouls like Poe in public office. But we still have a choice. With enough hard work, we can VOTE THEM OUT.
Now that’s “pro-choice”!
A new post on the Indivisible Houston resistance group’s Facebook page asks what we might say to rightwing 'pro-life' US Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) at his town hall meeting this Saturday, 3/25/17. The topic: GOP actions to cripple or kill the ACA, ripping health coverage from millions of families who have it now only because of the current law.
A December 2016 Think Progress article, plus a February 2015 companion piece, offer a frightening look at the reality. These articles cite a Massachusetts study — implying that GOP tampering would kill one person annually for each 830 people who lose their healthcare coverage.
This implication is so huge, so in-your-face, I wanted to see the source, and located the researchers’ summary. It describes their 2014 analysis of impacts from Massachusetts' ACA-like healthcare insurance law, enacted when Mitt Romney was governor. Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, this study found that each 830 newly covered individuals resulted in one fewer death per year.
When we run that film backwards, we get one new death for each 830 people who lose coverage thanks to the GOP. A 2015 amicus brief in a US Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell, made precisely this assertion.
So with confidence we can now tell Senator Death — uh, Cornyn — and his viper's nest of rightwing cronies including his Jesus-lovin’ fellow viper, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): "For every 830 people who lose their health coverage thanks to GOP tampering, one person who would otherwise live will surely die."
Think of it as a Republican lottery, a white elephant gift to our nation. Here’s how it works: statistically, people who lose their health coverage will be divided into groups of 830. Every year, one person in each 830-group will be randomly selected, and executed.
It could be you, your spouse, or the child you love.
This portrayal is not only accurate, it is inexorable. Inescapable. It’s what happens when people can’t get healthcare. And that’s not counting millions more people who are merely debilitated or bankrupted, instead of killed.
It brings to mind Shirley Jackson's classic short story, "The Lottery," which first appeared in the June 26, 1948 issue of The New Yorker. I hadn't read this story in a long time, but I did today. I felt afresh the shock and pointless cruelty it portrays.
Nearly 70 years later, in 2017, the GOP is about to resurrect "The Lottery" ten thousand times over — this time in real life.
And real death.
Let's tell that to the Senator and his cronies.
Cruz official photo. Artwork: ©2917 FairNow.org
I was reviewing the position of extreme rightwing Texas senator Ted Cruz on certain policy issues before I join other people of conscience in demonstrating at his Houston office this Tuesday 2/21/17 at noon. (Since dissent is the highest form of patriotism, you’re invited. And bring Old Glory.)
A quick Google search reminded me that Mr Cruz has definite beliefs about your daughter. (Citations appended below.) He believes that if your daughter, whom you love more than life itself, is violated by rape, and the rapist impregnates her, she should be arrested, convicted and imprisoned — if she seeks to cleanse herself of what she feels is a horror growing within her body, against her will. An extension of her trauma.
Perhaps if Mr Cruz were raped, violated, traumatized as many women are, he would feel differently. Trouble is, he lacks not only human compassion but a womb.
While a womb is not needed for compassion, one might argue that men generally have less of a feel for women's issues than women do. Generally. There may be plenty of exceptions, but one thing is sure: Ted Cruz is not one of them — not according to his rhetoric and record.
Given that most lawmaking bodies have a preponderance of men, and these bodies enact laws deeply affecting women's bodies, I propose to even the legislative odds on women's behalf.
I propose that all men recuse themselves from voting on issues that primarily affect women's control over their own bodies. That'll empty the house pretty quick. And the Senate.
Currently there are 21 women serving in the 100-member US Senate: 16 Democratic and 5 Republican. In the House, 83 of the 435 voting members are women: 62 Dem, 21 GOP.
These are the people who should be voting (if at all) on who gets to control women's bodies. On this issue, at least, the rest of Congress can go take a hike.
Women outnumber men in the US population. So think of this proposal as affirmative action on behalf of the majority of Americans, not a minority. God knows, Mr Cruz’s party opposes giving affirmative action to minorities.
So nothing personal, Mr Cruz. Just man up and step aside.
Do it for the majority.
How Ted Cruz Sides With Rapists
Even without being impregnated, many rape survivors carry their trauma for the rest of their lives, unable to fully heal. Thus forcing a woman to carry a rapist's fetus may be the cruelest punishment ever devised for the survivor of any crime. Yet that is precisely what Ted Cruz aims to do.
One can only imagine that some rapists — far from all, but the real sickos, incorrigible predators — are smirking up their sleeve. They want to not just hurt and degrade women but mutilate their very soul. And now they have a powerful ally: Senator Ted Cruz, their partner in crime.
I am guessing there's a special place in hell for the likes of Mr Cruz.
For many rape survivors, I don't have to guess. I know exactly where hell resides.
Georgia Right to Life, one of the most outspoken proponents of the movement to grant legal “personhood” to fertilized eggs and fetuses, has endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz for president after he signed their candidate pledge promising to “support a personhood amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” GRTL’s pledge, which the group says Cruz signed, asks candidates to affirm that “a continuum of human life and personhood begins at the moment of fertilization” and promise to protect “the civil rights of the pre-born at an embryonic or fetal level.” In practice, personhood would not only criminalize all abortions, it could also endanger some common forms of birth control and put women who have suffered miscarriages at risk of prosecution. The Georgia group’s advocacy of sweeping personhood measures to ban abortion is so radical that it caused it to split from the National Right to Life Committee.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said last month that Congress could “absolutely” criminalize all abortion by passing a law giving 14th Amendment protections to fetuses and zygotes, thus bypassing a constitutional amendment overturning Roe v. Wade. This represents the Republican presidential candidate’s strongest endorsement yet of the radical anti-choice “personhood” strategy, which, based on a questionable interpretation of Roe, holds that Congress can simply outlaw abortion by classifying fertilized eggs as persons under the law. If successful, personhood would outlaw nearly all abortions and could even criminalize certain types of birth control.
Cruz has staked out what he calls “courageous conservatism,” and refuses to budge from a hard-line anti-abortion stand. He subscribes to the belief that life begins at fertilization. This position would not only criminalize abortions in the case of rape and incest but would prohibit the use of contraceptive methods that are understood to prevent the uterine implantation of a fertilized egg like the intrauterine device and the morning-after pill.
Ted Cruz’s dangerous, extremist position to ban abortion across the board is wildly out of touch with women and Americans as a whole. But this is the same frightening zeal we get from all of the GOP candidates — Trump last week voiced intentions to ‘punish’ women who had abortions... Cruz also touts support from the most extreme and dangerous elements of the anti-abortion movement: namely the leader of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman. Newman is so extreme that Australia wouldn't let him in their country. A member of Newman’s Operation Rescue is responsible for murdering Dr. George Tiller. One of the group’s current spokeswomen, Cheryl Sullenger, served two years in prison for attempting to bomb a women’s health center that provided abortions. Newman himself has defended multiple other extremists and called the murder of an abortion clinic doctor a “justifiable defensive action.”
Original content ©2017 FairNow.org
The new presidential administration is crammed with alumni from one particular firm: Goldman Sachs. There’s Steve Bannon, Steve Mnuchin, and Gary Cohn. For starters.
"The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." —Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, April 2010.
Yet as Wall Street celebrates this swift return to glory days, let’s remember that a taxpayer-owned “public option” is outperforming Goldman Sachs and, more generally, Wall Street.
"It is more profitable than Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has a better credit rating than J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and hasn’t seen profit growth drop since 2003." —Wall Street Journal, 11/16/14
"It" refers not to some colossus of crony capitalism but the state-owned Bank of North Dakota, America's only public bank. North Dakota launched this taxpayer-owned “public option” on a wave of populist anger against big banks, whose unrestrained greed devastated ordinary folks.
Sounds like this morning’s news, but the North Dakota government launched this do-it-yourself banking solution nearly a hundred years ago, in 1919. Today the socialistic Bank of North Dakota (BND) thrives in what is now one of America's reddest states. Proof, perhaps, that life has a keen sense of humor — but this time the joke's on Wall Street.
The 2014 financial results WSJ reported were not a flash in the pan. Third-quarter 2016 financials show BND again outperforming Goldman Sachs’ return on equity, a key measure of bank profitability, by more than 60 percent.
Eye-opening, for sure. But what exactly is BND? It does not operate like your neighborhood bank: it's a wholesale "banker's bank" with one office and no branches. By state law, tax revenues are deposited in BND and not in Wall Street banks, the default choice almost everywhere else.
Thanks to BND's strong support of independent local banking, North Dakota has six times more community banks and credit unions per capita than other states. On average, these local financial institutions do four times more small-business lending than their counterparts elsewhere — a substantial, ongoing boost to North Dakota's economy.
That's not all. State-owned BND lends cheaply to cities, counties and other public entities, like school systems. They borrow from BND at typical interest rates of about 2 percent and without the exorbitant fees charged by Wall Street. The result: huge cost savings on infrastructure projects and other public financings, a boon to taxpayers.
Earnings from lending help grow BND’s capital base, enabling the bank to further expand lending. The rest of its earnings go back to the State of North Dakota. Over the years BND has returned hundreds of millions of dollars to the state treasury, easing pressure to raise taxes while helping to pay for public services.
BND’s dazzling performance is managed by bankers who are state government employees. Civil servants. No sky-high salaries, no stock options, no golden parachutes.
This terrifies Wall Street.
After all, what if other states — and cities and counties — got uppity like North Dakota? What if they started their own banks, public banks operating strictly in the public interest instead of enriching top executives and wealthy shareholders?
What if state and local governments, with their trillions in deposits and debt, declared independence from Wall Street? Turned their backs on the financial elite whose behavior continues to devastate families, communities and economies?
What if these public entities declared, like Bernie Sanders, “Enough is enough!”
It’s already starting to happen. Millionaire and Wall Street renegade Phil Murphy, the leading candidate for New Jersey governor, is running on a public banking platform after news emerged that NJ squandered more than a billion dollars on Wall Street fees alone.
The Oakland, California city council looks ready to invest in a public banking feasibility study. Dozens of other public banking initiatives are underway from Phoenix to Philadelphia.
This revolt won’t happen overnight, but it’s gradually gathering steam — no matter how many crony capitalists are crammed into the White House.
Links embedded in this article:
This post originally appeared at BernieWorks.com the day after the 2016 general election. Now it's three months later and we are three weeks into the Trump administration. A fitting time to glance back at those first moments after the shock set in.
Dear Mr Trump:
We at BernieWorks.com view your ascension as an exhilarating opportunity. It's time for all decent folks — tens of millions — to crank up Bernie Sanders' progressive political revolution for real.
It takes a grain of sand to be an irritant, causing an oyster to create a pearl. You are that irritant, Mr. Trump. Thank you for your service.
Though everyone is breathlessly talking about you, please remember: you are nothing but a grain of sand. Put another way, this is really not about you, it's about us.
Switching metaphors. . .
Vaccines generate a healthy response by revving up the body's immune system.
Perhaps a bracing dose of you, Mr Trump, with your seedy following of hatemongers and corrupt cronies, will finally stir up the body politic. Time to strongly reject the gradual attacks that both major parties have made on millions of American families over the past 40 years, crippling us like a chronic wasting disease. Enough is enough.
You could be the inoculation we have needed. Perhaps only someone as noxious as you could finally generate a healthy, overwhelming immune response.
It speaks poorly of our nation and people that we let things get this bad before mounting a massive response, like someone with a weak immune system.
But at least it's happening. We hope.
So regardless of what we think of you, Mr Trump, we can think of ourselves as a humble part of the body politic's immune system at long last kicking into high gear.
A pearl, a healthy body politic — whichever view you prefer, the opportunity is ours now.
In aikido, they say an adversary's attack is his gift to you. You have given us this precious gift, Mr Trump.
It's up to us to use it. Or lose it.
Lest we forget: to America's everlasting shame, in the 1930s and 1940s the US denied entry to thousands of Jewish families fleeing the Holocaust. Our nation turned back these refugees to be slaughtered by the Nazis.
Fast-forward 80 years. Donald Trump — the White House squatter celebrated by neo-Nazis and other haters — yesterday signed an executive order barring Muslim refugees from seven countries from entering the US.
We should call it Black Friday.
If you'd like a pdf or png of the image above, to share or to print and march in protest, just ask. Use our contact form. Mention locking out refugees.
This shame must not stand.