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Christmas in America

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San Jacinto Mountain forms the western backdrop of Palm Springs. The valley that runs from those mountains, to the state line on the Colorado River, is the Coachella Valley. On Monday, the 21st, one of the local television stations ran a story of a young Coachella Valley couple who had gotten professional financial counseling advising them to get a divorce. The wife, under the proposal, was to transfer all the assets to which she'd be entitled to her husband. Given the present American medical care scheme, she and their toddler would then be eligible to receive MediCal; California's version of Medicaid. You see, the toddler suffers a congenital heart condition that will require lifelong medical care, and their health insurance had already passed the "lifetime cap" for benefits. Or, the child will die; perhaps not as a child under SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program), the bill Republicans opposed. However, once no longer a child . . ..

Be aware, there is nothing whatsoever especially unique about the preceding. It's happening in heavily populated urban zones and in small towns from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific. Indeed, 45,000 Americans die every year because of an eat-or-medical care Sophie's Choice that composes a constant anxiety, even terror for tens of millions of US citizens. In all the industrialized world, only in America, ostensibly the most Christian country on earth, could that happen. Stay married; a baby dies. Even if a parent is not married, a baby dies. Or a sibling, or a parent does. Because of an underpinning creed: the capitalistic free market uber alles.

So how is the free market responding to the Senate's sure to pass version of health care reform? Just moments following Monday's 1:00 AM vote, Cigna shares jumped 5.3 percent, to $37.69; Aetna went to $34.41, a 5.85 percent climb; Humana enjoyed a share-price increase of 3.79 percent, to $45.17; and United Health Group soared 5 percent, to $33.14. The health insurance sector wasn't the only one receiving an early Christmas gift. Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), saw its common stock value go up 3.84 percent, to 65.51. Express Scripts stock shot up 5.2 percent, to $88.77.

And the Republican/conservative/fundamentalist Christian coalition are seething when a retail clerk wishes the shopper "Happy Holidays," as opposed to the much more Jesus-like "Merry Christmas." I wonder whether Jesus is cheering the health insurance and for-profit providers' glowing P/E ratios, and markedly improving stock prices. I wonder whether He's shaking his head in consternation over the "Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas" flap. Or, given His oration in Matthew, might He more likely say, "Screw all that completely irrelevant Merry Christmas BS noise, behave as though you really give a damn about the children and your brothers"?

Not just the base, the very core of today's GOP, are those who are so enthusiastic in their boasting of two themes. One, to loudly boast of their Christian principles. (Don't forget to include with principle, the interest on that principle! Yes, I'm aware of the misspelling of "principal," it was intentional; exactly as is the pursuit of both by the so-called Jesus lobby.) The second is their omnipresent blasting of liberals as godless atheists, whether or not the hue of that paint accurately colors the political element. It's like a run amok cuckoo clock, to one mantra or another, the din sounds with every tick: "Cuckoo! Abortion-loving, baby killers," "Cuckoo! Abortion-loving, baby killers," "Cuckoo! Abortion-loving, baby killers." Another turn of the screed is, "Cuckoo! Godless atheists," "Cuckoo! Godless atheists," "Cuckoo! Godless atheists," as families and people of all ages perish under the weight of their doctrine. The most predominant of all, however runs, "Cuckoo! We can't afford it," "Cuckoo! We can't afford it," "Cuckoo! We can't afford it," with similar tragic consequences.

But who's killing the babies? Who are the godless? Who are those least akin to the teachings of Jesus? Liberals who insist all Americans should have health care as a right, or the conservatives whose demonstrated first allegiance is to free market capitalism's profits?


Could one of them be Oklahoma's Senator Tom Coburn? The never shy legislator when it comes to tooting his own Christian horn and insinuating his devotion to Christian theology into as much of the chamber's polemics as possible? That Senator Coburn, who on Sunday urged the country to pray that one of the Democratic senators wouldn't be able to make the 1:00 a.m. vote? The Tom Coburn, whom we are forced to assume was referring to the wheelchair-bound, frequently hospitalized 92-year old Robert Byrd of West Virginia when he sought God's indulgence to keep a Democratic senator from being physically able to cast a vote? That exemplar "Christian," and within four days of Jesus birthday?

I want to know, who comprises the "we" in their "we can't afford it" merchandising slogan. Are they the same folk who are so eager to send someone else, or someone else's kids, to face death and mutilation in US foreign adventures because "we" must? Similarly, are they the same folks who -- at least for now -- have health insurance, and won't face mortal and financial devastation, should they or someone in their immediate family become ill? The ones who are above the fray? Where's the "them" in that "we"?

None of these rants about the GOP/conservative gangsters lets off the hook the deprecating machinations of Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Kent Conrad, et al. Their damnable predations must not be forgotten when they again face their constituents for reelection. But it was Republicans who voted "no" on every amendment (even those they themselves authored or co-authored), every procedural vote to end their filibustering and permit a majority vote, who raised a cacophony of the most outrageous lies heavenward, and who swore from the outset that their every intention was to kill health care reform, even as the lack of it was sending to their deaths millions upon millions of sick and gonna-be sick, and powerless Americans.

There's also another group that needs to be challenged, if, as they are want to claim, one of their most ardently elevated objectives was to actually make access to health care a right, and not something that required a highly expensive ticket to obtain: my liberal, progressive friends.

Okay . . . the Senate bill -- really! -- stinks. As reported above, without enacting into law, its scent is already proving to be an inebriating vapor to the health insurance industry. They're getting high on the hopes the bill will find its way to passage into law --all those millions of new customers and the billions and billions of new premiums are sending their stock values through the roof, and with them net worth of the corporate executives.

But because it stinks, and as it enriches those who are already rich beyond our ability to fantasize, and whom we also loathe to our core, are those reasons to advocate killing it? Advocating on principles? Ponder this thoughtfully, please. Because if the bill, as horrid as it is, dies, with it also die Americans --Americans whose dreams for their health and their children are not one whit disparate from the rest of us, the lucky ones; for now. (Never, ever let slip from your mind this one truth: you, me, all of us are but one click of the roulette wheel removed from joining those who face death and absolute financial ruin!) If the bill dies, it will be another decade -- longer, much, much longer, if Republicans regain power -- before the cause will again be picked up. This is a crucial consideration. Spouting off on doctrine is easy, and it may sound and feel good. But feeling good, literally, really is what this is all about, isn't it?

It's Christmastime in America. What we are about, as citizens and as decent human beings, will be defined according to what we want for others. In the spirit of the season, is it truly what we would want for ourselves?

 

An "Old Army Vet" and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: "He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity."

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Maybe its liberals and conservatives, Democrats an... by Bill Samuel on Thursday, Dec 24, 2009 at 7:37:27 AM
I, reluctently, voted to Kill the Bill, in my own ... by Scott Baker on Thursday, Dec 24, 2009 at 9:48:12 AM
Scott Baker asks, "Won't the health of the America... by Ed Tubbs on Thursday, Dec 24, 2009 at 10:40:32 AM
If you are relying on some American instinct to be... by Bryan Emmel on Friday, Dec 25, 2009 at 12:53:58 AM