Note From a Madman

Monday, October 3, 2005

Why I'm For Health Care For All


Sometimes I have a little to say about a lot of subjects. Sometimes I have a lot to say about one subject.

Tonight, it's the latter.

In 1980, during a softball game, I slid into 2nd base on a game-winning hit. As I landed, I heard a CRACK. Then the pain came. I had broken the tibia of my right foot causing a complete dislocation of my right ankle. It was mother's day and I was supposed to pick up my mother from her job on New York's Lower East Side. Needless to say, she wasn't happy. After an operation where they installed two surgical steel pins in the ankle, I spent the next couple of months in a cast. My medical insurance was minimal at best and I was forced to pay about $600 out of my own pocket. To a full-time college student who worked almost full-time hours as well, $600 was a lot of money (come to think of it, it still is). That same procedure today, I'm sure, would cost me ten times that amount.

A few months later, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. 50 percent of my mother's sons were now afflicted with that disease (my oldest brother is also a type 1 diabetic). Fortunately, I had "upped" my medical insurance, so this hospital stay wasn't as costly. It was these two events that taught this 20-year-old (in 1980) the meaning of good medical care and coverage.

In 1990, two of my three brothers and I started a business in New York's garment center. We had a very good hospitalization plan (Blue Cross/ Blue Shield's Wrap-Around Plus). In 1994, when Blue Cross/ Blue Shield realized that the plan was "too good", they discontinued it. It was them I became my business' Health Care Plan Administrator.

We had three employees at that time. My foreman had come to me asking to borrow a few hundred dollars. Normally, I wouldn't have asked why he needed the money, but he looked sad... so I asked. His son was sick and he didn't have health care coverage. At the time, it didn't occur to me that he didn't have the ability to take his son to see a doctor without going into debt. That was naiveté on my part.

It was then that I enrolled my three employees in New York's HIP (Health Insurance Plan of New York). My foreman's son had another problem, and his surgery was covered. It was a blessing. We are still friends today.

In 1999, my daughter, Bonnie, an occasional contributor to Note from a Madman was diagnosed with a horrible, lifelong disease named innocuously enough, NF2 (short for Neurofibromatosis Type 2). This disease has put tumors throughout her body that have now left her near deaf and about to have her fifth surgery (four for tumors, one for a resulting staff infection). This surgery will be number three in four months.

We have a strong, extended family. There are friends and acquaintances that ask about and pray for Bonnie on a regular basis, including a very close group of Evangelical Christians that we consider to be like family.

But this is not the thesis of my article, as long winded as it might be.

Bonnie's only hope, along with the other one-out-of-forty-four-thousand people inflicted with NF2, is the future development of Gene Therapy and Stem Cell Research, including Fetal Stem Cell Research. Bear in mind, I was always in favor of these possible future cures for multiple diseases, but I now have a vested interest.

I wonder how Bonnie will pay her medical bills after I'm gone. How will she take care of herself? I know that I am not alone in these thoughts. It is up to US to make sure that the sick in our country have the ability to see a doctor. Good medical care shouldn't revolve around the almighty dollar. There are many people worse off than Bonnie and I wonder how they get by on a day-to-day basis.

I have always felt this way about health care. Just ask Miguel Sanchez, my soccer team captain and foreman for my business from 1994 through 1999. There was, and is nothing more important to me than the health of our people. We are the most formidable western world country on the planet, but we have a third world mentality in regards to healing our sick.

I'm not writing this for sympathy or letters offering your thoughts or support. I know the people that subscribe to this newsletter. You are overwhelmingly good, thoughtful people with big hearts. Your good thoughts go without saying and are appreciated.

This is a political newsletter and this is a political issue, one that anyone with a sense of decency should stand behind, in front of and next to. It is an issue to embrace. No one should have to say, "Well, he couldn't afford to see the doctor, so he waited until it was too late." No one should suffer or die unnecessarily. PERIOD!

Now I know there will be some "Righties" who will read this and say, "Sure he's for health care for everybody. He has a sick child." The question I have for them is this:

Why aren't YOU for Universal Health Care?

-Noah Greenberg

Conservatives Red-Faced Over Miers

The jury is still out on Harriet Miers. There are a lot of obvious concerns; her lack of experience, cronyism, and of course her views on our basic freedoms.

But one thing that's already clear is that a politically weak Bush was unable to pick a nominee that would appeal to his extreme right-wing base. Already this morning conservatives are up in arms over the nomination.

[Law professor Jonathan Turley] Just said on NBC that this is “an amazingly bad choice.” He went on to say outright that Ms. Miers is unqualified. Ugh.
-From Confirm Them

After the Roberts pick conservatives swooned and said Bush doesn't care about "diversity"; it's only high qualifications that matter to this bold, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may leader, etc., etc. Don't we have to take all that back now?
-From The Corner:

Me, the sources, everyone it seems was wrong. We've all heard the rumors, but not a one could believe the President would do that. Where is our Scalia/Thomas. I think I'll let the President fight this battle himself, for now.

UPDATE: Conservative blog Ankle Biting Pundit has a roundup of right-wing reaction to Miers's nomination.

Bush nominated a person for the Supreme Court that has no experience at all as a judge! I am immediately alarmed that she is a Bush crony. When will the Republicans stop putting their buddies into high places? Keep in mind that this is a lifetime appointment! Democrats - get ready to filibuster this one. The "gang of 14" better not say she is qualified.

-Robert Scardapane

"I'd Rather Be the Hammer than the Nail"
-Simon and Garfunkle

Maybe not.

Hammer one, Hammer two! A second grand jury has brought another indictment against Tom Delay (R-TX). This time the charge is more serious - money laundering. The first indictment was for conspiracy.

Keep in mind that the malfeasance surrounding the illegal activities of super lobbyist Jack Abramhoff has yet to touch Delay directly but it's getting closer all the time.

-Robert Scardapne

Media Madman

"Did you know? For every $1 invested in high-quality early care and education, society saves $7.16 in welfare, special education and criminal justice costs. - An item on the home page of Indiana's Education Roundtable Web site. The message is clear and consistent: Invest in early-childhood education. It's the best way to reduce state spending, and it's the best way to bolster student achievement...Unfortunately, the response from Indiana's GOP-controlled state government has also remained clear and consistent: We can't afford it."
-From the Fort-Wayne Journal Gazette

Yep, that's the sort of answer we keep hearing from Republicans - "Can't afford it" (but they can afford tax cuts for the upper brackets and huge increases in military junkets such as Star Wars) OR "That's a liberal idea (actually it's called global competition and we are losing big time!). Again, I say it's time to admit the truth - Republicans have no ideas just rip off schemes for their cronies and wealth/power for the Republican anointed. Dump 'em America in 2006 and beyond.

-Robert Scardapane

The Myth of No Ideas

I am sick of Republican goons and their allies in the media saying that Democrats have no ideas. That is simply a blatant lie. It's easy to claim that the minority party has no ideas when they are not given a forum to speak in. On Meet The Press, Tom Reynolds (R-NY), head of the RCCC (Republican Congressional Campaign Committee), tried these tactics. But, he made a big mistake because Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL) was there to meet the challenge. Mr. Emmanuel laid out a Democratic plan:

1. Institute a system of measurements that gauge our progress in Iraq. No more blank checks for Bush, no more claims that 200,000 Iraqi are trained only to hear there is just one battle ready battalion.
2. There needs to be an independent
Katrina commission to study the failures of FEMA under Bush.
3. Health care for all! That's right, Mr. Emmanuel came out and said there needs to national health insurance.
4. Reform the culture of
cronyism and lobbying in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Emmanuel even challenged Mr. Reynolds to work with the Democrats on lobby reform legislation. Mr. Reynolds balked at the offer. I am hardly surprised as the Republicans are perfectly happy feeding the corrupt political machine they have created.

-Robert Scardapane

No Child Left Behind Comes To College!

Guess what the Republican boneheads have in mind now - they want to introduce "federal testing standards" in colleges. That's right, the Secretary of Education Spelling said this:

Unlike K-12 education, we don't ask a lot of questions about what we're getting for our investment in higher education," Spellings said in her remarks. "It's hard to make good policy without sound data on what's working well and what needs to work better."

Sounds like No Child Left Behind thinking to me! The biggest casualty in the Bush budget rip-offs has been education - $12.5 billion in cuts. So now, the Republicans want to introduce federal testing standards in colleges.


1) To make Kaplan, and accountability advocates (The Education Trust, The Learning Alliance) even more wealthy!
2) To argue that education is failing at the college level and cut funding even more.

Ultimately, the Republicans are determined to eliminate the Department of Education (along with labor, agriculture and a number of other departments). It's all part of the CATO Institute agenda and Grover Nordquist's dream of making government so small you can "drown it in a bathtub."

On Sunday's Meet The Press, Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL) talked about making college a goal for all Americans (much as high school was in the 1960's and beyond under LBJ's Great Society). He has the right idea. The Republican NRCC bonehead, Tom Reynolds (R-NY) said that sounds like a liberal agenda to me.

Really Mr. Reynolds, it sounds like survival in the world of globalization to me! These Republicans have no ideas and they must be booted out of office.

-Robert Scardapane

Today's Quote

The Defense Department was "in the final stages of putting a reimbursement program together and it is expected to be operating soon."
- Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, via email

This is truly amazing and incredible. The United States Department of Defense is dragging their heals on guideline for reimbursing the families of OUR SOLDIERS, who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, who have purchased the equipment to keep their brave family members safe and alive. Let's remember that these families bought this equipment because the DoD couldn't or wouldn't provide these items to OUR SOLDIERS themselves, as they should have.

"We should not be sending our young men and women into harm's way less than as well prepared as their nation can prepare them and provide them with the kind of protection they deserve. The Pentagon has never acted on this legislation despite the fact that it is the law of the land. It has been frustrating and the problem still persists."
-Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) who introduce the legistlation that would allow families up to $1,100 for reimbursement

Mr. Dodd shouldn't be so surprised. After all, the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party and the Bush administration view OUR TROOPS as their only truly expendable commodity.


They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg