Daily archives: December 22nd, 2009

Change Has Come to America: Health Insurance Reform About to Happen

All news from Democrats and the White House is positive. It looks like reform of our for-profit health insurance system is about to happen. Is the reform on the table perfect? No. None of the sides are perfectly content with the changes, including Democrats, Blue Dog Democrats, and the Party of No.

But it’s about to happen. I don’t like to make predictions. This time, I’m assured by positive words out of Washington today.

From Yahoo! News:

From the White House to Capitol Hill, Democrats on Tuesday confidently predicted Senate passage of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul after the bill cleared its second 60-vote test and the time was set for a final tally.

Coming to the Senate floor in the middle of the afternoon, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced an agreement to vote on final passage at 8 a.m. Thursday, Christmas Eve. It would mark the 25th consecutive day of Senate debate on health care.

“The finish line is in sight,” Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said at a news conference with other Senate leaders and cheering supporters. “We’re not the first to attempt such reforms but we will be the first to succeed.”

At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs declared: “Health care reform is not a matter of if. Health care reform is now a matter of when.”

Obama said the Senate legislation accomplishes 95 percent of what he wanted on health care. “Every single criteria for reform I put forward is in this bill,” the president said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Senate Democrats remained behind their compromise bill over steadfast Republican opposition. A motion to shut off debate and move to a vote on a package of changes by Reid passed 60-39.

The final 60-vote hurdle, limiting debate on the bill itself, is expected to be cleared Wednesday afternoon, setting up the Thursday morning-before-Christmas vote on the legislation, which at that point will need only a simple majority to pass.

Do you know what it means if the bill only passes with a simple majority?

It means it passes. It’s done.

The Almighty Left (and I include myself in that call, for all the times I lashed out) needs to stop whining about this bill and thank the President, thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, thank Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, thank them all. This will be the largest overhaul of our health care system in several lifetimes.

I was listening to Ed Schultz this afternoon whining about the health care reform bill, calling it a “Republican bill.”

Nonsense, Ed.  That’s just silly.  Stop it all ready.  This bill means reform.  This bill represents what happens when the Left, the Right and the Middle sit down to talk.  Congress is working again.  Congress is learning how to be a deliberative body again.  That in itself is call for celebration.

Think of it: no more exclusions from coverage for pre-existing conditions. That alone is worth our thanks.

Remember, thank President Obama. Those of us on the Left need to remember that governing is different from the poetry of the campaign. Governing is tedious. Governing means compromise. Governing means setting policy. Governing means changing direction slowly sometimes, like an ocean tanker. The geek in me remembers the early episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when Captain Picard would command, “All stop!” And the helm would reply, “Answering all stop!”

And we would wait for a moment while the Enterprise stopped.

It didn’t happen instantaneously. Nothing that big stops that quickly.

Change has come to America, but America is a big ship. Change, lasting and true change, takes time.

Passage of this bill will be huge. We should all be happy.

Report: 225,000 Haiti Children Work as Slaves

The sad news from the Associated Press:

Poverty has forced at least 225,000 children in Haiti’s cities into slavery as unpaid household servants, far more than previously thought, a report said Tuesday.

The Pan American Development Foundation’s report also said some of those children — mostly young girls — suffer sexual, psychological and physical abuse while toiling in extreme hardship.

The report recommends Haiti’s government and international donors focus efforts on educating the poor and expanding social services such as shelters for girls, who make up an estimated two-thirds of the child servant population.

Young servants are known as "restavek" — Haitian Creole for "stays with" — and their plight is both widely known and a source of great shame in the Caribbean nation that was founded by a slave revolt more than 200 years ago.

Researchers said the practice is so common that almost half of 257 children interviewed in the sprawling Port-au-Prince shantytown of Cite Soleil were household slaves.

Most are sent by parents who cannot afford to care for them to families just slightly better off. Researchers found 11 percent of families that have a restavek have sent their own children into domestic servitude elsewhere.

The report says that researchers said their sources were unaware of any prosecutions of cases involving trafficking children or using them as unpaid servants in this deeply poor nation of more than 9 million people.

Read more here.

Always Loving the Spotlight, Dwight Welch Helps Nab 3 Bank Robbery Suspects

When I first read this in the Trib, I just knew the “suburban mayor” had to be Dwight Welch trying to play cowboy again.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Three suspects were arrested this afternoon after they robbed a bank in south suburban Country Club Hills, officials said.

Three officers from Country Club Hills and Mayor Dwight Welch, who is a state-certified police officer and former sergeant, were joined by officers from neighboring Homewood and Flossmoor to make the arrest in the city’s Provincetown subdivision just south of 183rd Street.

Officials say two of the men robbed the First Midwest Bank at 4101 W. 183rd St. at about 2 p.m., while the third suspect waited in the van, according to a news release.

I really don’t care for Dwight Welch. I don’t care for anyone who engages in patronage government. It’s a big waste of taxpayer dollars, and really only benefits the politician dolling out the dollars or jobs. Dwight Welch certainly knows how to spend money.

But, you have to give credit where credit is due. According to the report, Mayor Welch joined three of his officers and responded to the scene, where they met with the two other officers. The group followed a set of fresh footprints to a nearby townhouse, where they ordered the suspects outside and took them into custody.

I’m glad the police caught the alleged bad guys, and I’m sure Dwight Welch is happy for the good press. Sure beats the State Board of Elections knocking on your door.

This isn’t the first time Welch has tried to steal the spotlight. NBC’s Steve Rhodes asked in September why Welch was trying to become the face of the Chris Kelly’s suicide investigation:

Welch also seems to have watched a few too many episodes of NYPD Blue, eagerly announcing in the early-going of the investigation that Flores-Buhelos had “lawyered up.”

It’s not an unusual term to hear around the federal building in Chicago or the grittier precincts of the city, but probably not a term a Country Club Hills mayor hears that often in real life.

Terry Gillespie is a defense lawyer tasked to represent his client with zeal, but in this case his angry retort that Welch had engaged in “unconscionable grandstanding” rang true.

In the least, Welch has acted carelessly, which is always a good way to endanger a criminal case.

But the criticism lobbed Welch’s way hasn’t slowed him down.

Now he is promising revelations at a press conference today that will leave people following the case both “pleased and a little surprised.”

How anyone could be “pleased” with any new findings is a mystery in itself.

At the time, Rhodes suggested that it was time to push Welch off-stage and let the real authorities “take hold of the case.”

Dwight is jumping into the spotlight again.  I simply cannot imagine a situation where a police officer would be happy to have the mayor tagging along for a chase.

Read rest of the story here at the Trib.

ACORN Cleared of Wrongdoing AGAIN


Tip of the hat to The Brad Blog for this:

Earlier this month, a two-month independent investigation of ACORN, by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, found incidents of mismanagement, but no criminal wrongdoing by ACORN, the favorite whipping boy of Republican scammers such as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Fox “News” and the GOP itself. That investigation also found that the “sting videos” used recently against ACORN were doctored and manipulated.

Of course, readers of The BRAD BLOG know the Republicans’ entire, long, sad, anti-democratic (small “d” and large “d” both) campaign is based on little more than the fact that ACORN registers millions of legal low and middle income voters who tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic (large “d”) rather than Republican, and the GOP and their democracy-hating proxies will go to any lengths to keep those legal voters from exercising their legal franchise.

And today, once again, ACORN is cleared of wrongdoing vis a vis yet another independent investigation, this one by the Congressional Research Service [PDF], as noted in a press release from U.S. House Judiciary Chair John Conyers this afternoon.

Read the full press release here.

Visit ACORN here.

Beluga Whale Born At Shedd Aquarium This Week Dies

Don’t know why, but I actually felt a twang of grief when I read this headline in the Chicago Tribune.

Strange. Feel sorry for the little guy.

Here’s the scoop:

A male baby beluga whale born in a difficult birth Sunday at the Shedd Aquarium died Tuesday after never establishing a bond with his mother or learning to nurse from her.

"This is an extremely sad day for the Shedd Aquarium family," Ken Ramirez, senior vice president of animal collections, said in a written statment announcing the death.

"Over the past 48 hours we provided round-the-clock care to the calf, and this morning, we became more concerned since he continued to be disoriented in his swimming and still had not reached two critical milestones of bonding with mom and nursing.

"Based on our knowledge of a healthy calf, we knew something was wrong."

The statement did not give details of where or when the calf died but said that his 20-year-old mother, Naya, is in good health and remains under 24-hour-a-day observation by the marine mammal staff.

Read more here. And hug your pet goldfish.

Or something like that.