Tag Archives: C-Span

A Vote for Healing…

Whatever else you think about today’s vote in the House of Representatives to approve the Debt Ceiling bill – there’s one thing from which we can all draw a truly bipartisan measure of joy: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ return to Congress for the first time since she was shot in the head on Jan. 8, 2011.

I was watching the vote tally on C-Span when sustained bipartisan applause rang out. At first, I couldn’t understand the celebration: the vote had not been settled at that point. Then, the C-Span announcer told us what the fuss was all about. Gabby Giffords had arrived on the floor to cast a vote in favor of the favor of the bill to raise the debt ceiling.

“I had to be here for this vote,” she said. “I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy.”

Some might take issue with whether today’s vote will ultimately help or hurt our economy – but setting politics aside for a moment, let’s simply marvel at this woman’s strength, resilience and grace.

I’m sure she didn’t mean to steal Speaker John Boehner’s thunder – though he’s probably very glad she did. In a chamber that had seen weeks of escalating rancor and polarization, colleagues from both sides of the aisle embraced her.

May her remarkable healing continue – and let our national healing begin.

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Bernie’s Big Speech!

You won’t hear about it much on the TV news, but today — on Friday December 10, 2010 — Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont began conducting a good old-fashioned Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style filibuster. An Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, Senator Sanders is outraged by the Obama-GOP tax giveaway to the mega-rich. Sanders is speaking truth to power — and giving us all a history lesson of the past lost decade.

While what Sanders is doing is not a filibuster under the traditional definition – he began speaking at 10:25 am ET – and, of this writing at 5:42 ET – he’s still going strong. Sander’s righteous stand has attracted so much attention today that it temporarily shut down the Senate video server.

We’ll hear about this historic moment on MSNBC, but will ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN give Bernie’s Big Speech much play? I’ll be surprised if they do. You can forget FOX.

Sanders began his marathon with a 2-hour speech against the tax cut deal before handing over the lectern to Sen. Sherrod Brown (my progressive Senator from Ohio) and then Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La., actually acting like one this time).

“How can I get by on one house?” Sanders said. “I need five houses, ten houses! I need three jet planes to take me all over the world! Sorry, American people. We’ve got the money, we’ve got the power, we’ve got the lobbyists here and on Wall Street. Tough luck. That’s the world, get used to it. Rich get richer. Middle class shrinks.”

A Sanders spokesman said that the 69-year-old senator will talk “as long as he can”. He hasn’t taken a break since this morning or had anything but water. “He doesn’t have an end time.”

Here’s to you, Senator Sanders: a true profile in courage.

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A Healthy Change

Congratulations to President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats on passage of a landmark Health Care Reform bill.

It was worth a long, long day watching C-Span to see history (much like sausage) being made on Sunday night, March 21, 2010, as a major Health Care Reform bill passed the House of Representatives. While it’s true that this bill doesn’t go as far as I’d like in reforming the health care system in America – I’m a single-payer guy myself – it’s a giant step in the right direction. At the very least, it stops the most egregiously greedy, hard-hearted practices of the insurance industry.

But seriously – why do we need these health insurance companies anyway? All they are is a money-grubbing middleman between patients and health care providers. The entire industry is a money-skimming scheme writ large. Their business is making billions of dollars in profit – which they make by not providing health care. Someday, I’d like to see them out of the game altogether.

Of course, Republicans, in lock step, opposed this historic legislation — despite the fact that over 200 Republican amendments had been incorporated into the bill. Clearly, the GOP has no interest in true bipartisanship. At least Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) was completely honest when he said that defeating President Obama’s health care reform initiative would prove Obama’s “Waterloo”. Senator DeMint and his colleagues’ only agenda was to damage Obama, not to help Americans in need of a break from fast-rising insurance premiums, or who lost their coverage because they were sick, or were denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Sorry, Senator DeMint, if this was Waterloo, it looks like you’re Napoleon. (Hope you enjoy your stay on Saint Helena.)

After all the lies, fear-mongering and demagoguery – it’s nice to see the dark side licking their political wounds.  And now, with health care reform soon to be the law of the land, they can get their wounds treated in an improved health care system.

Next up: financial regulatory reform.  It’s time to give the Wall Street Banksters a taste of progressive change, too.

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