Wyden Proposes Health Care Plan

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon has proposed a health care plan which is outlined on his web site. The plan has components which will sound familar to those who supported John Kerry’s health care plan in 2004 as it also involves finding ways to make it possible for all Americans to buy into the health programs offered to members of Congress.

I’ve criticized the Republican alternative, Health Savings Accounts, for creating disincentives for preventative care and treatment of chronic diseases, ultimately acting to increase the cost of providing health care to Americans long term. In contrast, Wyden’s plan would encourage preventative and chronic care:

Also under the Healthy Americans Act, subscribers will not be charged co-pays for preventive services or chronic disease management. Insurers will be able to offer discounts and other incentives based on participation in wellness programs such as nutrition counseling, tobacco cessation and exercise. Primary care physicians will be reimbursed for investing time in chronic disease management and prevention.

Obama Gets Feature Story and Annie Leibovitz Photo Shoot

obamas mens vogue

Obama may or may not turn out to be a credible candidate for President in 2008, but he is certainly doing a great job of obtaining early publicity. Men’s Vogue has both a lengthy article on Barack Obama and photos by Annie Leibovitz. Some selections:

As a speaker, Obama does not strive for the soulful effect of an African-American evangelical. Nor does he conjure instant empathy with an audience, the way Bill Clinton does. He delivers his message with the understated charisma of a Midwestern news anchor. But when he writes or when he speaks, Obama does something no one else in politics does: He plumbs his own anxiety and doubt, and ties his life story to political problems that few elected officials dare to discuss so personally, including the disparities of race and class, drug abuse, poverty, and, of course, faith.

That afternoon, the senator recounted his own path from a secular, multicultural household to the spiritual home he found in the black church. As a community organizer in Chicago in the 1980s, Obama had put together demonstrations and registered voters alongside Christian leaders who honored the civil-rights tradition of social change. His faith-grounded fellow activists, he explained, “saw that I knew their Book, that I shared their values, that I sang their songs.” But, he said, they also “sensed that part of me that remained detached and removed, that I was an observer in their midst.” He continued, “In time, I came to realize that something was missing for me as well, that without a vessel for my beliefs, without a commitment to a particular community of faith, at some level I would always remain apart, and alone.” Though Obama had long been skeptical of organized religion, he gradually came to embrace it “as a choice, not an epiphany.”

They go on to discuss how Obama wrote The Audacity of Hope: (more…)

More on Kerry and Gore

It’s been a good week for links.  Yesterday one of my posts on Barack Obama was quoted by The Guardian. Today I found that my earlier post on Kerry and Gore was mentioned by the Boston Globe, which also tells of a joint appearance by the two “at Mitchell Gold in Boston where Tipper Gore is displaying her fine art photography. A portion of the proceeds are going to The Climate Project, founded by Tipper and Al Gore.” There’s also a more recent photo of the two than the one I used for my earlier post.

Amy-Sherman Palladino on This Season’s Gilmore Girls and Rumors She Will Return for Finale

Gilmore Girls fans have had to endure a lot this year. There’s been the quickie marriage between Lorelei and Christopher which just isn’t working out so well. There’s the strange return of Marty, ultimately leading to a falling out with Rory’s new friends (which don’t compete with Paris and Lane any ways). Hopefully we are not going to have to endure a protracted custody battle over April. Worst of all, the dialog is just not right. Sure there are still those pop culture references, but they just aren’t done right. The New York Times goes as far as to say the show is as if “some Cylons who look like Rory and Lorelai are there, in Stars Hollow, going through their paces.”

For a moment it looked like there was hope. There’s rumors going around the internet that Amy Sherman-Palladino would return to write the season finale (as well as other unsubstantiated rumors of an eighth season). After following all the links to what I believe is the original source for the rumor, while it might be possible, this interview doesn’t really make it sound all that encouraging:

Ausiello: Now I have a few Gilmore Girls questions for ya.
(Adopting a Southern accent) Oh, honey, I got nothin’ to say about Gilmore Girls.

Ausiello: At least tell me if you’ve been watching it.
I have not been watching it.

Ausiello: Not at all?
No. Couldn’t do it. I think we actually talked about this in my ginormous 12-hour marathon interview with you [last April].

Ausiello: You did, and Dan said you guys were going to watch it.
He may’ve said that, but I’m a woman, honey. And women can fry up the bacon and bring it home in a pan. Here’s the bottom line: If it was great, I would feel horrible and want to throw myself off a building. And if it was not what I wanted it to be, I would throw myself off a… either way, I’d throw myself off a building. So there’s no good outcome there. You know, I still have friends there. I keep in touch with the cast. I just felt like it’s a new game and it’s a new show. Good, bad or indifferent, it’s a whole new thing.

Ausiello: Have you heard what they’re doing story-wise?
I’m really disconnected. Is one of them possessed?

Ausiello: Lorelai and Christopher are married.
Wasn’t that on the cover of TV Guide?

Ausiello: It was. We weren’t very discreet about that.
You weren’t very discreet at all. You just threw it right out there, baby. I still read Mike Ausiello. That I read. (more…)

Posted in Television. Tags: , . 1 Comment »

Candidates Hiring Religious Gurus

The Hill shows the increases importance in reaching out to religious voters among Democratic candidates:

“In 2004 only one of the primary candidates had any staff member who was reaching out to religious constituencies and to voters,” said Amy Sullivan, one of the first liberal journalists to identify the importance of faith-driven voters to the future success of the Democratic Party, referring to one-time Democratic front-runner Howard Dean. “At this point it looks like perhaps not all but at least a majority of candidates in 2008 primary will have somebody on staff focused on religious outreach and religious strategy, and that’s a sea change in the space of four years.”

The article starts with Hillary Clinton hiring “Burns Strider, one of the Democratic Party’s leading strategists on winning over evangelicals and other values-driven voters” but gives other examples:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) joined conservative Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) to speak about AIDS two weeks ago before the congregation of the evangelical Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Last week Congress passed legislation sponsored by Obama that would allow people in bankruptcy to give to charitable and religious organizations.

Josh Dubois, an aide in his Senate office, is heading Obama’s religious outreach.

Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), who is also contemplating running for the 2008 Democratic nomination, has been active, too. In September, he gave a speech on “service and faith” at the conservative Pepperdine University. He has tapped Shaun Casey, an associate professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary, to advise him on religious outreach.

Kerry also recently held a dinner at his D.C. home with evangelical leaders and traveled out to California for a four-hour meeting with Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, who wrote the bestseller, “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

They note states where the Democrats were successful in 2006, including here in Michigan:

In Michigan, Gov. Jennifer Granholm won 35 percent of the evangelical vote, according to exit polls, a 25 percent increase in white evangelical support compared to the national average for Democrats. In Ohio, Gov.-elect Ted Strickland won 48 percent of white evangelicals who voted. In Pennsylvania, Sen.-elect Bob Casey Jr. won over 29 percent of white evangelicals and 59 percent of Catholics, despite running against Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a candidate well-known for his Catholic beliefs.

Hopefully this will be a short lived fad going into 2008, and afterwards more voters will realize that religion is a poor way to differentiate candidates. As long as the government stays out of religious issues and separation of Church and State is restored, voters have many potential areas of agreement and disagreement which are far more relevant to the actual activities of government.

John Kerry Supporting Al Gore on Global Warming

Earlier I had a post to tie in together both Obama and Kerry by looking back at Obama’s Keynote Address. With this email along with from John Kerry (along with an older picture) I can tie in yet another pair of prominent Democrats:

I admire Al Gore for his outspoken activism in the fight against global warming.

In the last year, his “An Inconvenient Truth” has brought the science of global climate change to millions of Americans in a dramatic and persuasive way. Al was an early leader and a visionary on climate change — and if he had not just been elected but been inaugurated as president, America today would be the world’s leading advocate, not the world’s leading opponent, of preventing climate change.

Like you, I share Al Gore’s grave concern about the environmental threat posed by global climate change. Teresa and I go way back with Al in our engagement on this gathering crisis. Now, within the next decade, if we don’t deal with global warming, our children and grandchildren will have to deal with global catastrophe. It is time to stop debating fiction writers, oil executives and flat-earth politicians, and actually do something.

That’s why I’m asking the johnkerry.com community to join MoveOn, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and others in sponsoring nationwide house parties crucial to our environmental future. It’s all built around the DVD release of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.”

On Saturday, Americans will get together at house parties all over the country, watch the film on DVD, have a national conference call to discuss next steps, and start seriously mobilizing people. Participants will get a chance to talk to Al Gore and ask him questions.

Can you attend a screening in your town on Saturday, December 16? Click below to get started.

Find a house party near you

You know the underlying message of Al Gore’s movie. It’s not just that global warming is shaping up as a catastrophe of enormous dimensions. It’s that, together, we have the ability to stop this disaster — if we act now.

Saturday’s house parties are a great opportunity. This massive effort to organize and spread the word about “An Inconvenient Truth” is one of the best chances we’ve had in a long time to demonstrate how serious the problem is — and how serious we are about pushing Congress toward real solutions. More on that later — in this new Congress the johnkerry.com community will have our own bipartisan opportunity to make Washington stop spinning and start solving this problem.

There’s no doubt that “An Inconvenient Truth” has struck a responsive chord. The DVD of the movie sold more than a million copies in its first week. When strong leaders like Al Gore step forward to educate and organize people around vitally important issues, they deserve our full support.

Help spread the word.

Thanks for taking part in this crucial undertaking.


John Kerry

P.S. We may have to wait to January until the new Democratic Congress convenes to force elected leaders to take real action on global warming. But, we can start organizing public support for real leadership on this vitally important issue right now. Let’s get started.

Update: The Boston Globe picked up this link, and going back to a their story provides both more information on Kerry and Gore being together, along with a new picture. Both are noted in this post.

Barack Obama’s Keynote Address in Support of John Kerry

With the last two posts being on John Kerry and Barack Obama, it is worth recalling that John Kerry was one of the first to recognize Obama’s promise in inviting him to give the Keynote Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. In return, Obama recognized many of John Kerry’s fine qualities. It is worth remembering that speech today:

Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Dick Durbin. You make us all proud.

On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, Land of Lincoln, let me express my deepest gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention.

Tonight is a particular honor for me because – let’s face it – my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that shone as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before.

While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor my grandfather signed up for duty; joined Patton’s army, marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through FHA, and later moved west all the way to Hawaii in search of opportunity.

And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter. A common dream, born of two continents.

My parents shared not only an improbable love, they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or “blessed,” believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential.

They are both passed away now. And yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with great pride.

I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible.

Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation – not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

That is the true genius of America – a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted at least, most of the time.

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations.

And fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans, Independents – I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More work to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father that I met who was losing his job and choking back the tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn’t have the money to go to college.

Now don’t get me wrong. The people I meet – in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks – they don’t expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead – and they want to.

Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don’t want their tax money wasted, by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon.

Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach our kids to learn – they know that parents have to teach, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things.

People don’t expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all.

They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our Party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and service because they’ve defined his life. From his heroic service to Vietnam, to his years as a prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available.

His values – and his record – affirm what is best in us. John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded; so instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he offers them to companies creating jobs here at home.

John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves.

John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren’t held hostage to the profits of oil companies, or the sabotage of foreign oil fields.

John Kerry believes in the Constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties, nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.

And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world war must be an option sometimes, but it should never be the first option.

You know, a while back, I met a young man named Shamus [Seamus?] in a VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, six-two, six-three, clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he’d joined the Marines, and was heading to Iraq the following week. And as I listened to him explain why he’d enlisted, the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all that any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he is serving us?

I thought of the 900 men and women – sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who won’t be returning to their own hometowns. I thought of the families I’ve met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists.

When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they’re going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

Now let me be clear. Let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued – and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this.

And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure.

John Kerry believes in America. And he knows that it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga. A belief that we’re all connected as one people.

If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription drugs, and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief, it is that fundamental belief, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.

E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America – there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America – there’s the United States of America.

The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or do we participate in a politics of hope?

John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope.

I’m not talking about blind optimism here – the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. The hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores. The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta. The hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds. The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.

Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.

I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us.

America! Tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do – if we do what we must do, then I have no doubts that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come.

Thank you very much everybody. God bless you. Thank you.

Walter Shapiro on Obama’s Magic

Walter Shapiro provided some of the best reporting on the early activities of the 2004 candidates for the Democratic nomination. He has written about Obama’s Magic for Salon:

Obama’s magic

With his rock star visit to New Hampshire, the highflying senator continues to tantalize Democrats with intimations of a White House run — and a buzz not felt in American politics since JFK.

By Walter Shapiro

Dec. 12, 2006 | As Barack Obama addressed the largest pre-presidential-primary crowd in modern New Hampshire history Sunday afternoon, Democratic state party chair Kathy Sullivan was sitting directly behind the Illinois senator. From her vantage point, Sullivan saw exactly what Obama saw — 1,500 rapt faces staring up at him with curiosity, affection and hope. Turning to her seatmate Sylvia Larsen, the president of the state Senate, Sullivan whispered, “Imagine what it must be like to be him.”

For Obama, the “Imagine” has almost reached John Lennon levels. His political ascent has already reached those star-studded heights where even political insiders like Sullivan cannot fully comprehend the pressures from the adoration and expectations that envelop him. He was not supposed to run for president this time, for Obama was the Democratic future held in reserve for 2012 or 2016. We are witnessing something rare — a would-be candidate tantalizingly signaling his potential availability and the rank-and-file of the Democratic Party responding beyond his most rapturous dreams. As Chicago-based media consultant David Axelrod, one of Obama’s closest advisors, said in an interview Monday, “I wasn’t alive then, but this is the closest thing to a draft since Adlai Stevenson in 1952.” (Stevenson, the reluctant governor of Illinois, was nominated on the third ballot at the Democratic Convention.)

Obama’s best-selling book may be called “The Audacity of Hope,” but a presidential campaign by the fledgling senator (he was elected in 2004) might best be dubbed “The Hope of Audacity.” Virtually every major politician believes in destiny, but few test fate’s limits so early in his or her career. Facing more than an invasion-size armada of 100 reporters at a press conference Sunday afternoon, Obama said, “I am suspicious of hype. The fact that my 15 minutes of fame have extended a little longer than 15 minutes, I think, is surprising to me and completely baffling to my wife.” (more…)