Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Status of Health Care Legislation

My friend, Dr. Paul Hsieh, has been following the health care bill and fighting it every step of the way.  The following is his update, as of this morning, as to what’s going on.  You can read more about Paul and his efforts to preserve our rights by fighting this awful legislation at his FIRM blog.

In response to a question I received about the current status of the Health Care bill, here is a short summary:

The US Senate still has a couple more procedural votes, then the final vote is tentatively scheduled for Christmas Eve.  I personally think that the Democrats' 60-vote coalition will hold throughout the process:


(It still won't hurt to contact your Senators, but the chance that it will change anyone's position now is fairly small.  Nonetheless, I've still e-mailed my Senators and will continue to do so until the final vote.)

If the Senate does pass its version, then it has to be reconciled with the House's version.  Normally, this is just a formality.  Members from both houses come up with some compromise, and it's resubmitted to both Houses for a final vote which passes easily.

Only in rare cases such as this (where one house has just barely enough votes for its version and there are contentious provisions that differ in the two versions), then the House-Senate "conference" to reconcile the two versions could get tricky:

"Democrats Face Challenge in Merging Health Bills"
NYT, 12/22/2009

In this case, many of the differences are about a variety of issues that for us are non-essential -- taxpayer funding for abortions, taxes on "Cadillac" health plans, etc.
One strategy: Pelosi and the House could just decide to swallow hard and vote to accept the Senate version for now -- so that there's *something* to send to the President by his State of the Union address in January 2010.   They could then claim that they will address some of these contentious secondary issues (abortion, etc.) later.

Or the House-Senate conference could make some changes which might then require complex re-negotiations (i.e., favor trading and "pull") to ensure enough votes in both Houses.
It could go either way.

But basically, this reconciliation process between the two houses would probably be our last chance to alter the legislative outcome.

This won't happen until after the Senate vote, and I will definitely send updates as I learn more.

For now, the action is still in the Senate.  And the bill remains unpopular with Americans with latest support only 36%:
So if you want to contact your Senators, you can still try...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Great Post Today at FIRM

Hat tip to Paul Hsieh over at FIRM for bringing this to my attention.  I love simplicity!

The Devil is in the Room and I Smell Sulfur

From the Copenhagen “climate” conference, Hugo Chavez was applauded for bad-mouthing the only moral and peaceful economic system that mankind has ever known.  From this article:

Then President Chavez brought the house down.

When he said the process in Copenhagen was “not democratic, it is not inclusive, but isn’t that the reality of our world, the world is really and imperial dictatorship…down with imperial dictatorships” he got a rousing round of applause.

When he said there was a “silent and terrible ghost in the room” and that ghost was called capitalism, the applause was deafening.

But then he wound up to his grand conclusion – 20 minutes after his 5 minute speaking time was supposed to have ended and after quoting everyone from Karl Marx to Jesus Christ - “our revolution seeks to help all people…socialism, the other ghost that is probably wandering around this room, that’s the way to save the planet, capitalism is the road to hell....let’s fight against capitalism and make it obey us.”  He won a standing ovation.

What more proof do some people need to see that these world leaders, these self-proclaimed "imperialist dictators" are not operating in your best interest?! Isn't it obvious that the freer a society and the smaller the government, the more prosperous *everyone* in that society is? Just look at America's poor compared to Chavez's poor. Do you not see that we are headed in the same direction as Chavez's poor?

The article ends with:

And the Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi – who made a sensible and considered and detailed proposal about how to get financing to help climate change adaptation and mitigation in poor countries? He was far less enthusiastically received.

That’s because no world leaders care about his people.  It’s obvious they don’t even care about their own. 

This conference is not about climate change or the poor.  It's about anyone that has money and how governments can steal more of it from us.  It’s about money, power and control. The real greedy, fat cats ain't on Wall Street people, they're in Washington D.C.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A New Christmas Tradition

Last year was mine and Santiago's first Christmas together.  We met a few days before Christmas the previous year.  Before that, we'd both always spent the holidays with our family, but I must say, last Christmas with just the two of us, was one of the best I've ever had. 

Christmas Eve, I purchased a fully cooked turkey dinner from Mimi's Cafe.  It was quite good and a very low stress way to enjoy a full, traditional Christmas dinner. 

Then we put on our pajamas and the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, and opened the gifts we had bought for each other.  (Of course, I had already received my "big" present the Sunday before...an engagement ring!)

I don't even remember specifically what we did after that, but the rest of that evening and all day Christmas Day involved lots of relaxing in our pajamas, eating leftovers and enjoying each other's company.  It was a cozy, intimate, relaxing Christmas for two.  I can't wait to do it again this year!

We're contemplating a pregnancy, so next year may be another new Christmas experience for us.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Win for All Men

From this news story:

A group of white firefighters who persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to sanction their promotions over black colleagues are receiving their new badges Thursday in a ceremony that provides symbolic recognition of their victory.

That's not quite what they did. They did not want their promotions over the promotions of black firefighters. They wanted their promotions because they fulfilled the requirements to get those promotions. They wanted the promotions based on their merits.

The firefighters were told to take a test and fulfill other requirements in order to get promotions. Some firefighters met those requirements, others did not. The ones that passed are now getting the badges they earned, regardless of their skin color, ethnicity or sex.

After posting the above link on my Facebook page, a friend linked me to the very inspirational story of Ben Vargas. Lieutenant Vargas was the only non-white to pass the exam given by the fire department. From his story:

Lieutenant Vargas decided to follow the path of an older friend, John Marquez, whom he looked up to. Mr. Marquez had worked his way out of the neighborhood by joining the Fire Department.

“I used to tell him, ‘You know where I came from — if I can make it, anyone can,’ ” Mr. Marquez, now a deputy chief in the department, said in an interview. “ ‘But don’t expect anything to be handed to you. Work for it.’ ”

But Lieutenant Vargas’s aspirations were stymied by a 1988 lawsuit, filed by black firefighters, that shut down hiring for years. The lawsuit challenged a written test that relatively few nonwhites passed. In 1994, the city agreed to disregard the test, over union complaints, and hire 40 firefighters — 20 white, 10 black and 10 Hispanic, according to The New Haven Register.

Lieutenant Vargas was among those hired. That later led some people to criticize him as trying to shut the door that welcomed him, though he maintained that it was impossible to know how he would have done under the old hiring process.

Even Vargas’ own brother refused to support him. It’s sad that this is what a principled, honest person must endure in today’s society, but his story is truly inspiring and well worth a read. The article ends with:

Gesturing toward his three young sons, Lieutenant Vargas explained why he had no regrets. “I want them to have a fair shake, to get a job on their merits and not because they’re Hispanic or they fill a quota,” he said. “What a lousy way to live.”

It’s comforting to know there are people out there who think this way, and that they’re passing these values on to their children, the future.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Am I Finally at a Loss for Words?!

I haven't blogged in awhile.  Well, not in this blog anyway.  My private blog has a few recent entries.  I have been busy, but I think it's more or less burn out.  I feel burned out at work, with politics, with current events and within certain areas of philosophy.  I'm not going to fret about it too much.  I've got plenty of other things to keep me busy and my life is great, so I'll get back to this when the mood strikes.  :-)