Friday, March 26, 2010

Support Rep. Alan Grayson and HR 4789

Representative Alan Grayson may prove to be my next political hero, a role and an honor not frequently filled. He is the author of H. R. 4789 and presented it this way (in case you are stubbornly refusing to watch the YouTube video above!) back on 12 March:

This simple four-page bill lets any American buy into Medicare at cost. You want it, you pay for it, you're in. It adds nothing to the deficit; you pay what it costs.

Let's face it. Health insurance companies charge as much money as possible, and they provide as little care as possible. The difference is called profit. You can't blame them for it; that's what a corporation does. Birds got to fly, fish got to swim, health insurers got to rip you off. And if you get really expensive, they've got to pull the plug on you. So for those of us who would like to stay alive, we need a public option.

In many areas of the country, one or two insurers have over 80% of the market. They can charge anything they want. And when you get sick, they can flip the bird at you. So we need a public option.

And they face no real competition because it costs billions of dollars just to set up a national health care network. In fact, the only one that's nationwide is . . . Medicare. And we limit that to one-eight of the population. It's like saying that only seniors can drive on federal highways. We really need a public option.

And to the right-wing loons who call it socialism, we say, "if you want to be a slave to the insurance companies, that's fine. If you want 30% of your premiums to go to 'administrative costs' and billion-dollar bonuses for insurance CEOs who figure out new and creative ways to deny you the care you need to stay healthy and alive, that's fine. But don't you try to dictate to me that I can't have a public option!"

And there is a way left to get it. By insisting on a vote on H.R. 4789. Three votes on health care, not two. The Senate bill, the reconciliation amendments, and the Public Option Act.

We got 50 co-sponsors for this bill in two days. Including five powerful committee chairman. But we need more.

Sign our Petition at

Call. Write. Visit. Do whatever you can do to get you Congressman to co-sponsor this bill, and push it to a vote. Right now, before it's too late.

Let's do it!

Here is the complete text of the full bill:

HR 4789 IH


2d Session

H. R. 4789

To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for an option for any citizen or permanent resident of the United States to buy into Medicare.


March 9, 2010

Mr. GRAYSON (for himself, Mr. FILNER, Mr. POLIS of Colorado, Ms. PINGREE of Maine, Ms. SHEA-PORTER, Ms. SCHAKOWSKY, Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts, Mr. KUCINICH, Ms. EDWARDS of Maryland, Ms. WATSON, and Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means



To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for an option for any citizen or permanent resident of the United States to buy into Medicare.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

This Act may be cited as the ‘Public Option Act’ or the ‘Medicare You Can Buy Into Act’.

(a) In General- Part A of title XVIII of the Social Security Act is amended--

(1) in section 1818(a), by striking ‘or 1818A’ and inserting ‘, 1818A, or 1818B’; and

(2) by inserting after section 1818A the following new section:


‘(a) In General- (a) Every individual who--

‘(1) is a resident of the United States;

‘(2) is either (A) a citizen or national of the United States, or (B) an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence; and

‘(3) is not otherwise entitled to benefits under this part or eligible to enroll under this part;

shall be eligible to enroll in the insurance program established by this part. An individual may enroll under this section only in such manner and form as may be prescribed in regulations, and only during an enrollment period prescribed in or under this section.

‘(b) Enrollment; Coverage- The Secretary shall establish enrollment periods and coverage under this section consistent with the principles for establishment of enrollment periods and coverage for individuals under section 1818, except that no entitlement to benefits under this part shall be effective before the first day of the first calendar year beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act.

‘(c) Premiums-

‘(1) IN GENERAL- The provisions of subsections (d)(1), (d)(2), and (d)(3) of section 1818 insofar as they apply to premiums (including collection of premiums) shall apply to premiums and collection of premiums under this section, except that--

‘(A) paragraphs (4) and (5) of section 1818 shall not be applicable; and

‘(B) the estimate of the monthly actuarial rate under section 1818(d) shall be computed and applied under this paragraph based upon costs incurred for individuals within each age cohort specified in paragraph (2) rather than for all individuals age 65 and older.

‘(2) AGE COHORTS- The age cohorts specified in this paragraph are as follows:

‘(A) Individuals under 19 years of age.

‘(B) Individuals at least 19 years of age but not more than 25 years of age.

‘(C) Individuals at least 26 years of age and not more than 35 years of age.

‘(D) Individuals at least 36 years of age and not more than 45 years of age.

‘(E) Individuals at least 46 years of age and not more than 55 years of age.

‘(F) Individuals at least 56 years of age and not more than 64 years of age.‘(d) Treatment- An individual enrolled under this part pursuant to this section shall not be treated as enrolled under this part (or any other part of this title) for purposes of obtaining medical assistance for medicare cost-sharing or otherwise under title XIX.’.

A Thousand Little Wacos:::Apples and Cabbage

I know, I know. Given all that I have read, seen, and heard in just the past week, how can I continue to claim astonishment? I don't know, but it is the truth.

I am profoundly shocked, surprised, and appalled -- yes, again!

The Washington Post reported on the angry, and sometimes violent, reactions of those whose universe was apparently rocked by the signing of the health reform bill on Tuesday. As previously noted, bigoted speech and threats of physical harm began to percolate, then boil.

A good part of my day was spent making composed salads, boiling and poaching anything I could get my swollen and fumbling hands on. Faced with the remains of such an effort, I always try to make stock, something that cooks everywhere value as gold. I visualize all this hatred as that nasty, speckled foam that sometimes forms a head on a pot of bubbling chicken stock -- you know, the stuff that begs to be skimmed away.

Yes, I would much rather think about cooking. Have any of you used the much-touted-by-Alton-Brown Grains of Paradise, in lieu of pepper?

Who would knowingly or willingly incite people to such offensive extremes?

Meet imminent blogger and budding brain trust Mike Vanderboegh.

Some of the vandalism appears to have been instigated by an Alabama blogger, Mike Vanderboegh, who encouraged his readers to throw bricks at the windows of Democratic headquarters across the country. Vanderboegh, a former leader of the Alabama Constitutional Militia who is headlining an open-carry gun rally in Northern Virginia next month, issued a call to the modern "Sons of Liberty" on his libertarian political blog to break windows nationwide to display opposition to health-care reform.

A vandal threw a brick into the glass doors at the Monroe County Democratic Committee's headquarters in Rochester overnight Saturday, attaching a note that quoted Barry Goldwater: "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice."

Vanderboegh did not respond to questions Wednesday from The Washington Post, but he took credit for the incident in an interview earlier this week with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "I guess that guy's one of ours," he told the newspaper. "Glad to know people read my blog."

Vanderboegh is a member of an Alabama militia, once worked as a warehouse manager but is now disabled by diabetes, hypertension, and congestive heart failure, for which he receives a disability check from the government to the tune of $1300/month. Someone in TwitterLand says that he doesn't use Medicare, to which he'd be entitled virtue of being a gimp, but instead enjoys excellent coverage from his wife's work benefits. More power to him.

His Blog, the Sipsey Street Irregulars, flies under the waving rubrique of The Doctrine of the Three Percent:

The Three Percent are the folks the Founders counted on to save the Republic when everyone else abandoned it.

And we will.

There will be no more free Wacos and no more free Katrinas.

For we are the Three Percent.

We will not disarm.

You cannot convince us.

You cannot intimidate us.

You can try to kill us, if you think you can.

But remember, we’ll shoot back .

We are not going away.

We are not backing up another inch.

And there are THREE MILLION OF US.

Your move, Mr. Wannabe Tyrant....

What is a "Three Percenter"?
During the American Revolution, the active forces in the field against the King's tyranny never amounted to more than 3% of the colonists. They were in turn actively supported by perhaps 10% of the population. In addition to these revolutionaries were perhaps another 20% who favored their cause but did little or nothing to support it. Another one-third of the population sided with the King (by the end of the war there were actually more Americans fighting FOR the King than there were in the field against him) and the final third took no side, blew with the wind and took what came.

Three Percenters today do not claim that we represent 3% of the American people, although we might. That theory has not yet been tested. We DO claim that we represent at least 3% of American gun owners, which is still a healthy number somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 million people. History, for good or ill, is made by determined minorities. We are one such minority. So too are the current enemies of the Founders' Republic. What remains, then, is the test of will and skill to determine who shall shape the future of our nation.

The Three Percent today are gun owners who will not disarm, will not compromise and will no longer back up at the passage of the next gun control act. Three Percenters say quite explicitly that we will not obey any futher circumscription of our traditional liberties and will defend ourselves if attacked. We intend to maintain our God-given natural rights to liberty and property, and that means most especially the right to keep and bear arms. Thus, we are committed to the restoration of the Founders' Republic, and are willing to fight, die and, if forced by any would-be oppressor, to kill in the defense of ourselves and the Constitution that we all took an oath to uphold against enemies foreign and domestic.

We are the people that the collectivists who now control the government should leave alone if they wish to continue unfettered oxygen consumption. We are the Three Percent. Attempt to further oppress us at your peril. To put it bluntly, leave us the hell alone. Or, if you feel froggy, go ahead AND WATCH WHAT HAPPENS.

Again: I know, I know. I copied and pasted Vanderboegh's brilliance above just before passing out from exhaustion in the wee hours -- I thought that, like my many bowls of composed, succulent, and enticingly fragrant composed salads, it would improve for having sat unmolested overnight.

I am, as you and I share this convivial moment, munching on one of the chicken salads. It is close to sublime, the sweetness of some of the ingredients set off by the bite of quickly sautéed mustard greens: Not your average chicken salad. Very little mayonnaise, yet enough. I am most pleased that the bowl is now almost empty as the Minions of Marlinspike Hall have apparently been scavenging while I slept, confident that upon awaking, The Doctrine of Three Percent would have homogenized enough to make palatable sense.

My un- and sub- consciouses rival such rabid gun-owners' intent by making plans to feed the world on composed salads (chicken, potato, cole slaw, salmon, shrimp, taco) until we are all so sated that the notion of hurting, killing, or humiliating one another smothers under the weight of gustatory contentment.

Sometimes I feel sorry for God, and render unto Him fervent apologies. More often, though, I cook.

So Vanderboegh took for the title of his blog the story of one Phillip Sheats Gordon, an "ATF target" who booby-traps his home with all sorts of exciting little technologies and weapons before facing off with government-type intruders. As he is, sniff, riddled with cancer, what does he have to lose, holed up as he is in his -- you guessed it -- Sipsey Street home?

Philip Sheats Gordon figures in what is described as "Vanderboegh's upcoming novel, Absolved."

My forthcoming novels all disappeared a few years back, sunk by the embarrassment of their many announced yet never-accomplished arrivals. I decided that kitchen duties were more my thing. Anyway, as best I can figure, Vanderboegh has written five chapters, neatly, correctly, and duly numbered and then he has, in apparent frustration, jumped to Chapter 31. Wannabe writers everywhere understand that impulse!

Over at Think Progress blog, I discovered that Vanderboegh is currently driven to "protect" the lives of the Democratic leadership. (Well, that's how *he* put it. Were I listed among his protectees, I'd be in full-fledged flight away from his sort of defense.)

VANDERBOEGH: I am telling you we are motivated to break windows, we feel a deadly threat from the Federal government and the orders that the Democrat party has given us. [...]

COLMES: You’re telling people to break the windows of Democratic headquarters. You’re telling people to commit acts of vandalism. You’re supporting breaking the law.

VANDERBOEGH: May I tell you my personal motive for doing this? I’m trying to save the lives of Nancy Pelosi, and every one of these people who do not understand the unintended consequences of their actions. [...] Because they are not paying attention to the million of people across this deepening divide that politics no longer avails them. [...] We refuse to participate in the system, and we refuse to pay the fines, and we refuse arrest. Now where do you suppose that’s going but a thousand little Wacos.

Excuse me while I go whip up something for the populace -- something filling, warm, comforting.

I am thinking apples and cabbage, followed by an insulin-challenging dessert. I might even fall head-over-heals into my own pitiful stereotype and brew a pot of Earl Grey. Ah, but that means making scones...

A thousand little Wacos. Sweet Jesus.

***** ** ***** ** ***** ** *****

Red Cabbage and Apple Salad With Ginger Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups packed shredded red cabbage
2 cups packed shredded Napa cabbage
2 cups thinly sliced Granny Smith apple
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup golden raisins, plumped in hot water
1/4 cup toasted, unsalted sunflower seeds

Media Matters for America has tackled a summation of the right-wing media's history of violent rhetoric. Serve yourself a heaping bowl of this delicious and detoxifying cabbage salad and ponder the map Sarah Palin has made, marking the locations of legislators who voted for the health care reform initiatve -- marking the locations with cute little crosshairs. I think a nice loaf of crusty bread would go well with this vegetable dish, as it soaks up irritating stomach acid.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More Close Encounters of the "Bob" Kind

Has enough time passed since the jubilant signing of the Health Care Reform Bill and its necessity of 20 pens that we can settle down and speak the truth?

Like... what a terrible disappointment it is that the public option was sacrificed, when it alone would have made this true reform?

Like... how despicable conservative obstructionists have been? How heartless, and cruel? How manipulative and disrespectful of their own followers, that they have, essentially, abused free speech by inciting to riot, by screaming "fire, fire, fire" in the cramped and dark theatre that is the U.S.A.?

Like... how uninformed and illogical many citizens are, and how driven by out-of-control emotion -- fuming, frustrated anger that has all the hallmarks of a two-year-old's temper tantrum, except that two-year-olds don't usually wield the weapons of bigotry?

And (having taken a quick look at today's news headlines) like... how if the Democrats could adopt just a tiny bit of right-wing anality, the bill would not be subject to a re-vote on the basis of parliamentary mistakes? Just because you have succeeded in doing, in a marginal way, what is minimally moral, does not mean that you should fail at following the rules for governance. Yes, I am a nerd, and often a wonk. Yes, I am frequently appointed to be the Ball Buster Rule Diviner -- often seen as a curse, due to the thankless nature of the work, but that role is necessary to success. I haven't yet scoped out who the House Parliamentarian is... but 30 lashes with a limp noodle might be appropriate.

So I ran across this Emperor Bob person/persona on Twitter, then briefly visited his blog, Emperors Rants and Observations, where he can be found addressing the Various Issues of the Day, from campaign finance reform and climate change to the health care reform initiative and Alaskan politics. He's keen.

Oh, Faithful Readers:
I am so tired this morning.

My internist and I, recognizing an infection flaring in my left shoulder, decided that I should return to my poor orthopedic surgeon. Um, poor in the sense that the man has operated on me eight times since 2005, replacing shoulders, removing shoulders, putting in antibiotic spacers, taking them out, and so on, but has not managed to get any of the bacterial specimens to grow in the laboratory environment. Without identifying the offending bug, the correct antibiotics cannot be applied to the situation.

And now the pain is getting worse on the right side, and... {whisperofdenial} my left hip. Both of those joints have "hardware" implanted, thus making them attractive breeding grounds for germs. But we won't think about that today.

So, Fred loaded me and my super-duper powerchair into Ruby, the Honda CR-V, and we sped off to see said surgeon.

You are a fool if you believe that being without health insurance does not affect the standard of the care you receive, even in the form of advice.

ShoulderMan opined that he wanted another "aspiration under fluoroscopy," which would be the fifth or sixth time we tried that particular trick. It is painful, not particularly dangerous, and expensive. But, for me, the overriding factor was that it has never produced a piece of useful data.

If samples of purulent pus taken directly from my humerus during surgery and rushed to the awaiting petri dishes in a sophisticated hospital lab also cannot produce the identification of the offending organism, why do we keep pretending that these painful and expensive aspirations are in any way superior?

I reminded ShoulderMan that since I had last seen him, I had been priced out of my health insurance -- my Faithful Readers know well that I just could not swing $1513 a month for premiums, plus the $5000 more in deductible, and all of that on top of the thousands not covered. I live on private disability insurance due to the combined effects of CRPS in all my limbs (and now, face), avascular necrosis, lupus, Addison's disease, aortic insufficiency and so on, ad infinitem, ad nauseum.

Believe me, I tried to stay insured. It took the help of my state's Insurance Commissioner for me to have coverage to begin with, once COBRA expired. But BCBS eventually was demanding 97% of my income... and I dare you to criticize me for folding, at that point.

ShoulderMan said: "I don't get it. You ought to have MEDICARE."

{we have had this exact conversation already several times over and over again, not to be repetitive or fall into a déjà-vu sort of iterative redundancy}

Moi: "Yes, Dear ShoulderMan, I ought to. {actually, i tried to pull off an oughtn't i? but couldn't spit it out.} However, I fail to qualify because most of my working years were spent in university systems that did not pay into Social Security but rather into poorly funded and criminally operated pension funds. I lack ONE work credit, in the amount of $830, toward eligibility."

ShoulderMan replied, with a fair amount of dripping condemnation in his voice: "Well, why don't you do some work for a week, maybe tutor some local college kids, and turn that in?"

Moi: "Hmm, wow, I never thought of that." Okay, that's a lie. What I really said was:

"I have been informed by my Disability Insurer that to do so would mean the loss of my disability income, and it would be well over two years before any substantive replacement from governmental sources would kick in."

ShoulderMan muttered: "Oh, well... Okay. So I think we need to get this aspiration done and consult with a new Infectious Disease doctor, maybe over at Charity Hospital. This is the kind of thing that cannot be ignored..."

And he promptly exited, stage left.

His minion, PA Bob, then did something that reduced me to tears. Yep, here I go again, even crying into my laptop.

He came over to me, handed me the official pink and yellow copies of codes for the visit, so that I could check out and pay (which I obviously was prepared to do). As he walked into the crowded hallway, he said, loudly:

"Why, wasn't that nice of Dr. ShoulderMan. Look, he marked the box for 'No Charge' so that you don't have to pay for this consult."

Dr. ShoulderMan, who moves at roughly the speed of light, was long gone and already ensconced in the next exam room, so Bob was not making points with him... Leaving me, once again, to wonder why Bobs, in particular, are so intent on confusing me! For a succinct treatment of my history with Bobs, read this.

I've never engaged in a political dialogue with either PA Bob or his boss, having intimated from various remarks that they are both ultra-conservative and that ShoulderMan may, in fact, be an Evangelical (I intend that to reference the Conservative Evangelical Movement, à la George W. Bush).

Aside: Here is one of the fairest succinct explanations of Evangelicalism that I've run across. It comes from an address by conservative EPPC Senior Fellow Wilfred McClay* entitled American Culture and the Presidency, delivered either in Fall 2004 or early 2005.

As a faith that revolves around the experience of individual transformation, it inevitably exists in tension with settled ways, established social hierarchies, customary usages, and entrenched institutional forms. Because evangelicalism places such powerful emphasis upon the individual act of conversion, and insists upon the individual's ability to have a personal and unmediated relationship to the Deity and to the Holy Scriptures, it fits well with the American tendency to treat all existing institutions, even the church itself, as if their existence and authority were provisional and subordinate, merely serving as a vehicle for the proclamation of the Gospel and the achievement of a richer and more vibrant individual faith.

Anyway, there is nothing abstract in the nature of how being an uninsured (and uninsurable) citizen impacts my life. It truly may contribute to my death, as I have spent the first few working hours of this day on the phone with the aforementioned Charity Hospital -- and the helpful pickings are, let's say, slim. The clinic system there may eventually help me, but there are no appointments to be had anytime soon.

Unbelievably, three times (like Peter's crowing cocks), I was told to go to the Emergency Room!

I have avoided a close rereading of what Obama signed, and what Congress is continuing to work through, precisely because I am not yet convinced of the permanence of any change -- but clearly, I am going to have to dedicate time to it today.

Because if there is no fairly immediate help for me in the legislation, I am close to abandoning all hope. I cannot continue with daily fevers up to 101, the attendant sweats, chills, and pain -- on top of my usual severe pain from CRPS and AVN -- I cannot sit in waiting rooms for hours, especially now that my left hip may have joined with the Infected Skeletal Alliance.

Oh, boo-hoo! What a sob fest this post has turned into! But I am going to leave it as is, if only for its potential to serve as a shaming mirror the next time I decide to whine.

The saving grace here is this YouTube video from Emperor Bob, an amazingly calm rant to which I will return with frequency... Thanks, Bob! [Correction -- a correction which blows the whole Bob Phenomenon to hell, but maybe you won't notice -- that is not Bob on the video. No, the star of that show is one "old fart rants," who has quite the head of steam built up over on YouTube!]

*Wilfred McClay is the 2009-2010 William E. Simon Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy. He is the SunTrust Bank Chair of Excellence in Humanities at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he is also professor of history, since 1999. He is Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and has served since 2002 on the National Council on the Humanities.

Major sigh, and where is the ibuprofen? "The SunTrust Bank Chair of Excellence in Humanities"?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Has It Come To This?

New Vigilance Needed in Wake of Healthcare Vote

by David Silverberg
Monday, 22 March 2010

Violent domestic extremism poses a real threat.

In the wake of the divisive 219-212 House vote passing healthcare reform, authorities need to heighten vigilance against extremist violence against government facilities.

The year-long healthcare debate was emotional and divisive and while the vote may have resolved the issue legislatively the passions it aroused are unlikely to die down soon.

In such an atmosphere extremist violence is a real possibility, particularly directed against government installations or symbols of government authority. Coming on top of a census process that has also been infused with extremist charges, homeland security officials at all levels of government should be especially vigilant against potential attacks from domestic sources.

Domestic extremist terrorism has long been on the homeland security radar. In 2009 a report by the Office of Intelligence & Analysis in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), titled,
Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment noted that while there were no specific plots under way, "rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues." These included the election of the first African-American president and the economic downturn. It also reported that extremists were recruiting returning Iraqi war veterans. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano later disavowed the report as having been released prematurely without proper vetting.

More recently, on March 2 the Southern Poverty Law Center released its own report, Rage on the Right , reporting that "The radical right caught fire last year, as broad-based populist anger at political, demographic and economic changes in America ignited an explosion of new extremist groups and activism across the nation." According to this report, 363 new "Patriot" groups formed in 2009, with 127 of them being militias and the formation of 136 new anti-immigrant groups.

As though to underscore the volatility of the current situation, yesterday, as the House of Representatives voted on healthcare reform legislation, tens of thousands of demonstrators descended on Washington to demand comprehensive immigration reform, an issue that may prove even more passionate and divisive than healthcare.

Read the rest here, at Homeland Security Today

Stand, and Remember

I just heard that Glenn Beck has admonished John Lewis for "comparing" himself to "civil rights activists."

He is not worth my time, Glenn Beck, yet he requires attention because of the uncritical thinkers who are following him.

John Lewis, though, needs no defense from anyone; He need only stand, as he has always stood.

The rest of us, however? We are required to remember, and to share those memories with an abundant spirit.

From The Biography of John Lewis:

He was born the son of sharecroppers on February 21, 1940, outside of Troy, Alabama. He grew up on his family's farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama. As a young boy, he was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts. In those pivotal moments, he made a decision to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement. Ever since then, he has remained at the vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States.

As a student at Fisk University, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. Lewis risked his life on those Rides many times by simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons. He was also beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.

During the height of the Movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form. SNCC was largely responsible for organizing student activism in the Movement, including sit-ins and other activities.

While still a young man, John Lewis became a nationally recognized leader. By 1963, he was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. (The others were Whitney Young, A. Phillip Randolph, Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer and Roy Wilkins). At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.

In 1964, John Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. The following year, Lewis helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Hosea Williams, another notable Civil Rights leader, and John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as "Bloody Sunday." News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. After leaving SNCC in 1966, he continued his commitment to the Civil Rights Movement as Associate Director of the Field Foundation and his participation in the Southern Regional Council's voter registration programs. Lewis went on to become the Director of the Voter Education Project (VEP). Under his leadership, the VEP transformed the nation's political climate by adding nearly four million minorities to the voter rolls.

Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

From Outrage to Grief: Trying to Understand

When I read the news this morning, my outrage boiled over, pooling into disbelief. As the day wore on, it evolved into something akin to grief.

I have decided it to be a good thing that I am shocked, as opposed to nodding sagely and murmuring that "I am not surprised."

I am shocked and I am surprised. Profoundly so.

The insanely angry, sputtering atmosphere the Tea Baggers have created allowed one of their peculiar fetishists to think it a grand idea to yell "nigger" at John Lewis, who has lived a life of integrity and service, first as a civil rights leader, and then as an elected representative from Georgia.

Obscenities were shouted at other members of the Black Caucus, and, just to be equal opportunity bigots, Barney Frank had to endure lisps and being called a "faggot."
Someone spit on Congressman Cleaver of Missouri.**

Signs screamed: "If Brown can't stop it, a Browning can" and "We came unarmed [this time]." Then there is the artwork depicting President Obama, sporting a Hitleresque moustache for good measure, being shat out the arse of an ass.
And racism and gay-bashing apparently wasn’t all. Add anti-Semitism to the list.

A staffer in Rep. Anthony Weiner’s office reported a stream of hostile encounters with tea partiers roaming the halls of Congress. The less harmful stuff was mockery. But they left a couple of notes behind. One asked what Rahm Emanuel did with Weiner in the shower, in a reference to... ex-Rep Eric Massa. It was signed with a swastika, the staffer said. The other note called the congressman “Schlomo Weiner,” among other [things].

There is good stuff being written every minute of every day, and some of it helps me to understand the fear-filled feelings of disenchantment (or whatever, searching for an honorific mot juste on behalf of the right wing nauseates me right now).

But not much tops what The Onion did last November. It came back to mind as I attempted to watch Meet the Press and skim commentary on yesterday's doings because the Word of the Day for Republicans, in advance of the historic House vote on health care reform, turned out to be unconstitutional.

If I thought something unconstitutional, I'd use that argument straight away, and not pull it triumphantly out of my... hat -- at the very last. But that's just me.

Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be

Spurred by an administration he believes to be guilty of numerous transgressions, self-described American patriot Kyle Mortensen, 47, is a vehement defender of ideas he seems to think are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and principles that brave men have fought and died for solely in his head.

"Our very way of life is under siege," said Mortensen, whose understanding of the Constitution derives not from a close reading of the document but from talk-show pundits, books by television personalities, and the limitless expanse of his own colorful imagination. "It's time for true Americans to stand up and protect the values that make us who we are."

According to Mortensen—an otherwise mild-mannered husband, father, and small-business owner—the most serious threat to his fanciful version of the 222-year-old Constitution is the attempt by far-left "traitors" to strip it of its religious foundation.

"Right there in the preamble, the authors make their priorities clear: 'one nation under God,'" said Mortensen, attributing to the Constitution a line from the Pledge of Allegiance, which itself did not include any reference to a deity until 1954. "Well, there's a reason they put that right at the top."

"Men like Madison and Jefferson were moved by the ideals of Christianity, and wanted the United States to reflect those values as a Christian nation," continued Mortensen, referring to the "Father of the Constitution," James Madison, considered by many historians to be an atheist, and Thomas Jefferson, an Enlightenment-era thinker who rejected the divinity of Christ and was in France at the time the document was written. "The words on the page speak for themselves."

According to sources who have read the nation's charter, the U.S. Constitution and its 27 amendments do not contain the word "God" or "Christ."

Mortensen said his admiration for the loose assemblage of vague half-notions he calls the Constitution has only grown over time. He believes that each detail he has pulled from thin air—from prohibitions on sodomy and flag-burning, to mandatory crackdowns on immigrants, to the right of citizens not to have their hard-earned income confiscated in the form of taxes—has contributed to making it the best framework for governance "since the Ten Commandments."

"And let's not forget that when the Constitution was ratified it brought freedom to every single American," Mortensen said.

Mortensen's passion for safeguarding the elaborate fantasy world in which his conception of the Constitution resides is greatly respected by his likeminded friends and relatives, many of whom have been known to repeat his unfounded assertions verbatim when angered. Still, some friends and family members remain critical.

"Dad's great, but listening to all that talk radio has put some weird ideas into his head," said daughter Samantha, a freshman at Reed College in Portland, OR. "He believes the Constitution allows the government to torture people and ban gay marriage, yet he doesn't even know that it guarantees universal health care."

Mortensen told reporters that he'll fight until the bitter end for what he roughly supposes the Constitution to be. He acknowledged, however, that it might already be too late to win the battle.

"The freedoms our Founding Fathers spilled their blood for are vanishing before our eyes," Mortensen said. "In under a year, a fascist, socialist regime has turned a proud democracy into a totalitarian state that will soon control every facet of American life."

"Don't just take my word for it," Mortensen added. "Try reading a newspaper or watching the news sometime."

**Battery: A battery is the willful or intentional touching of a person against that person’s will by another person, or by an object or substance put in motion by that other person. Please note that an offensive touching can constitute a battery even if it does not cause injury, and could not reasonably be expected to cause injury. A defendant who emphatically pokes the plaintiff in the chest with his index finger to emphasize a point may be culpable for battery (although the damages award that results may well be nominal). A defendant who spits on a plaintiff, even though there is little chance that the spitting will cause any injury other than to the plaintiff's dignity, has committed a battery.

CRPS Pediatric Case Study: Successful Use of Pamidronate

The successful use of pamidronate in an 11-year-old girl with complex regional pain syndrome: Response to treatment demonstrated by serial peripheral quantitative computerised tomographic scans
Authors: P. J. Simm, J. Briody, M. McQuade, C.F. Munns

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a disorder that can cause significant functional morbidity. While it usually presents in adulthood, it has also been reported in children. Multiple treatment modalities have been reported with mixed success. Bisphosphonate therapy has been shown to be effective in adult patients, but there are limited data in children. We report the successful use of intravenous pamidronate therapy in diminishing pain, improving function, and restoring bone mass in an 11-year-old girl with CRPS of her left lower limb following a tibial fracture. Previous treatment with intense physiotherapy and regional sympathetic blockade had not improved her symptoms. Pain improved within weeks of the first pamidronate infusion, with subsequent improvement in function. The benefit in pain reduction and function was sustained during the 2-year treatment regime. Improvement in bone mass and density was demonstrated by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and peripheral quantitative computerised tomography (pQCT). pQCT scans showed marked improvement in bone size and geometry and muscle bulk on the affected side. No adverse affects were reported. We conclude that intravenous pamidronate was associated with reduced pain, a return of function, and recovery of bone and muscle parameters in a child with CRPS. Before definitive conclusions can be drawn, a randomised controlled trial similar to those undertaken in adults previously is required to fully validate this approach.

Published in Bone, Volume 46, Issue 4, Pages 885-888 (April 2010)

[Received 7 August 2009; received in revised form 9 November 2009; accepted 25 November 2009. published online 14 January 2010.]