Thursday, May 11, 2006

New Kerry? Old Kerry? Either way, we heart him.

John Kerry has been kicking the requisite ass this week, and we have tried our best to blog apace. Today, however, Senator Superhero is WAY the heck ahead of us. Try to bear with us.

First of all, I love the sight of a Kerry op-ed in my morning paper. The Senator writes:

Imagine telling women in 49 states that their insurance no longer has to cover mammogram screenings for breast cancer. Or taking away coverage of diabetes supplies from 5.7 million Americans living with the disease. Or dropping mental health parity protections in 39 states.

That's exactly what could happen if Republican leaders in Congress get their way. And that's just the risk for the Americans lucky enough to have health care coverage. For those Americans without coverage, the message is even worse.

Unfortunately, the Mercury News did not see fit to provide a picture along with the good Senator's op-ed. But who am I to look a gift horse in so massive a mouth? Especially when we have a Photobucket account for such things. See:

And that's not even from today. I'm just posting it because I like it.

In a piece called "The New Kerry" over at The Nation, Ari Berman is starting to sound like KV and me. Now, I maintain that there's no new Kerry, only new Kerry fans, but what do I know? Thank you for your insights, Ari. It's so good of you to join us.

And Taylor Marsh may have a little crush. Welcome, Taylor, to the club.

Also today, some lucky students at American University got to see the Senator in the flesh. No pics or video of the remarks are available yet, but, as always, text is available at the Democratic Daily, as is an mp3 for your listening pleasure.

Fangirls who feel like throwing virtual panties today will want to head over to Daily Kos, where the Senator posted earlier, and has even responded to a smattering of comments. Good times.

And finally, I watched all five seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm and became a big fan of star/auteur Larry David, but never a fangirl. Could his lending his voice - quite literally - to a new book by Greg Palast on how Kerry won the presidency in '04 account for my change of heart? Get the podcast here.

"There is no more pressing need than improving health care for our children."

Earlier this week, I posted a press release from Senator Kerry's office regarding S. 1955, the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act.

Today, Senator Kerry spoke on the Senate floor regarding the same legislation.

He appeared in a most fetching blue (Nantucket Isle and Whale?) tie and that striped shirt that photographs so beautifully, but really looks even better on the C-SPAN 2 live feed.

Not that you asked.

A full transcript of all 40 or so minutes of REALLY GOOD fashion (oh, and super important rhetoric!) is available at The Democratic Daily. My favorite bits are pasted here:

We need to chart real progress against America’s health care crisis.

We need to finally pass a bill on stem cell research and to fully fund all research initiatives at the National Institutes of Health.

We need to take up real legislation to get at the heart of racial and ethnic health disparities.

We need to make it legal to import affordable prescription drugs from Canada.

We need to put medical decisions back in the hands of doctors, nurses, and patients -not insurance company bureaucrats.

We need to address our nursing shortage by fully funding all programs under the Nurse Reinvestment Act we fought so hard to enact.

We need mental health parity.

We need to address our growing childhood obesity epidemic.

We need to reauthorize the State Child Health Insurance Program.

And we need to give families and small businesses access to the same private health insurance that members of Congress give themselves. It’s time we stood up and made it clear that every family’s health care is just as important as a politician’s in Washington....

Typically, the great thing about our democracy is that if we have a better idea, we are theoretically allowed to offer that alternative on the Senate floor and engage in a debate on the merits of each approach. That’s what is so fundamentally frustrating about this week’s discussion – that differing approaches are not allowed to see the light of day....

There are a multitude of other ideas on how we can go about providing access to more affordable health care for small businesses – ideas that will provide them coverage without harming everyone else. Ideas that will help small businesses maintain their current coverage – because I hear all the time from small business owners who are doing the right thing and providing coverage but are so crunched on price they fear having to drop their policies altogether....

In my time as Ranking Member on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senator Snowe and I have worked hard to find a compromise that would meet the needs of small businesses. We have held hearings on this issue, and have heard from countless small business owners on how this problem can be fixed....

In 2004, I presented America with a plan that would provide every American with the same health insurance enjoyed by members of Congress. Since that time, Senators Richard Durbin and Blanche Lincoln have taken that idea and turned it into a bill that creates the Small Employers Health Benefits Program. I am a proud cosponsor. Under S.2510, small businesses could join a national pool and take advantage of the same federal administrative functions and bargaining power that is enjoyed by eight million Federal employees across the nation. Most importantly, S.2510 protects every state mandate currently on the books....

Americans know we need to do better. They know there is no more pressing need than improving health care for our children. That is why nearly 25 national organizations representing over 20 million Americans have endorsed my Kids First plan to do just that.When I first I sent an email telling supporters about KidsFirst, within days over 20,000 parents phoned in recordings of why the KidsFirst health plan is important to their families. I want to read a few of them for you:
Jennifer from Central Islip, N.Y. called in and said, “I have a child who is on medication…that costs me $250 or more a month. I have children who can’t go to the dentist. You know, it’s the worst feeling in the world, as a mother, to know that in order to afford health care; you’re not going to be able to afford the home you live in.” Jordan from Reading, PA called in and said, “Nalani…my three-year old…was born with cataracts…Eventually chances are she will be blind. Unfortunately, times are really hard in my house and we don’t have health insurance and I can’t afford to give her the surgery that will fix the problem that she has. I just can’t imagine growing up knowing that there was a way that you could have been helped. But because nobody thought you were important enough and because your parents didn’t have enough money for health insurance…you went blind.”

With calls like this, you must wonder how it is that Congress continues to turn a blind eye.

If you haven't yet figured out why we love John Kerry, you are almost certainly a lost cause! look at the remarks in full, or start paying some attention to what he does on the Senate floor, and think about the fact that every time he speaks, you can tell EXACTLY what kind of person he is.

How many people can you say that about, while meaning it in a good way?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mary Cheney adds insult to "injury"

I'm going to level with you. I'm in a bit of a mood today.

It seems that David Wade is none too happy with Mary Cheney today, and neither are we.

And I can't speak from Mary Cheney's perspective. I've never been in her position. I'm not saying I "get it."

But maybe I do. I mean, I'm female. I write for a blog called "We Love John Kerry." And I have never written to any Congressperson opposing anti-gay legislation without mentioning that I am happily married and wouldn't deny that experience to ANY couple.

So the jig is up: I'm heterosexual. And having put that out there doesn't make anybody's mom a bitch. If John Edwards tells somebody I'm straight, it doesn't compel me to swear at him.

And I know all things are not equal, and that sometimes people like Mary Cheney have a tougher time of it than I do. But that doesn't make her the gatekeeper of tolerance in this country. And it doesn't make tolerance a buffet. We cannot sidle up to it and choose the item that says the word "lesbian" is an insult, while not acknowledging the "good" folks behind the Defense of Marriage Act. It is no more acceptable than making patriotism a partisan issue. It is no more acceptable than treating a Senate record, or Naval records, or any part of the public record as something that is up for political debate.

Granted, it's all protected under the Bill of Rights. So much the better. I'm not going to challenge Mary Cheney's right to say John Kerry injured and exploited her, even if it is a huge case of the pot calling the kettle black.

But I'm not going to lie. When I think about Mary's dad, and about the President of the United States sending thousands of American kids, most younger than I am, to fight and possibly die defending Mary Cheney's right to her crappy, crazy, ridiculously partisan logic...

well, it puts me in a bit of a mood.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"When right, keep it right and when wrong, make it right"

So says our superhero senator to all who believe in blind nationalism and who suggest that those in power are always right, simply because they are in power.

His mission is to "make it right" and he pursues that mission with inexhaustible resolve.

This last Saturday, he was at Grinnell College, delivering a speech that took the best of his April 22 Faneuil Hall call to honor and combined it with the Ten Point Plan he unveiled in New Hampshire in March. Time Magazine considered him worth quoting (and they thoughtfully included a picture as eloquent as his words...)

The Grinnell speech was one of a series he is making on college campuses across the country.

This Thursday, April 11, he will be at American University in Washington, D.C., speaking at 1 p.m. in the Kay Spiritual Life Center, 4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW
CONTACT: April Boyd, 202-224-4159

Yesterday, our energetic hero was in Nashua, speaking at the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire convention and examining the latest in firefighter bootwear.

Kerry told the firefighters that he had problems with the President's nominee to replace Porter Goss as head of the CIA because Hayden is "one of the main supporters representing Donald Rumsfeld who helped to put in place the programs of spying on Americans and has been one of the biggest defenders of it."

The Senator is asking us to take back our government, to "make it right." How fortunate we are that he is answering his own challenge with such vigor and conviction!

"Gosh, this is making for strange bedfellows!"

Since today is apparently strange bedfellows day, I thought we could keep on with the "Fun with Fox News" for one more entry.

Ed Schultz had this to say on Rupert Murdoch's slated fundraiser for Senator Hillary Clinton, transcribed by me in orange to match Big Eddie's hair:

"Could you imagine John McCain or Bill Frist going over and having a fundraiser with I can't even get that out without laughing! I mean, this is the ultimate in forgiveness. This brings possible redemption to a new level. The big story - and there's going to be more talk about this, because a lot of folks on the left, a lot of folks who are liberal Dems who are wondering what the party is all about [are] saying, "You know, Hillary's too far to the center, in fact, she's been going to the right."

In case you hadn't heard, Rupert Murdoch, who is the owner of - well, the media mogul, I mean, he owns Fox - he's going to throw a fundraiser for Hillary. And I know how this is going to be received by some Americans out there who are trying to figure this whole political thing out right now. Gosh, this is making for strange bedfellows! I think this is going to alienate as many people as it's going to recruit...

This is where I draw the line. I have no love for Fox, and I know lefties don't, either... I'll never forget what Fox did to John Kerry and the Democrats in '04. I mean, it was a prime time constant bashing eight months out from the election - absolutely relentless. And now look where the country is! I think they influenced a lot of people in the middle of the road. And I think that that kind of media ownership, and that kind of driven agenda, and that kind of a mission is partly responsible for where the hell we are right now!

... Hillary, you don't need Rupert Murdoch."

Click here to listen to the rest of Big Eddie's podcast on this issue.

The Ick Factor

Here at the We Love John Kerry blog, we sometimes operate under the belief that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who want John Kerry and know it, and those who want John Kerry and don't know it.

The theory pretty much originates with Rush Limbaugh. If Rush Limbaugh isn't obsessed with Kerry, then I sure as heck am not, either.

Floating in that gray area between Column A (a crush so huge and embarrassing that it has it own blog) and Column B (hating that election-losing bastard so much you've saved every picture you can find of him windsurfing, kiteboarding or swimming to your hard drive JUST so you can make fun of him every other day) is, according to today's Boston Herald...

oh, this is hard to type.

Bill O'Reilly.

O'Reilly told the Herald: “If he is more specific and does engage the folks, he’s got a good shot. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s got respect abroad. I think he’s a smart guy. We need some strong leadership in this country.”

If a stopped clock weren't correct twice a day, I wouldn't even post this here. But when you think about it, even a first-class douchebag like O'Reilly is a citizen who is entitled to crave strong leadership as much as anyone else.

So, Bill O'Reilly, if you are reading this, I hope you're enjoying our moment of solidarity as as much as I am.

Or rather, was. Because now it's over.

Monday, May 08, 2006

JK and Small Business: The Lovefest Continues

Senate Majority Leader Bill "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor" Frist has officially dubbed this week Health Week.

I hate to be so partisan, but, as far as I'm concerned when Senator Frist gets excited enough about something to give it a cute name, it probably means bad news for somebody. In this case, according to a press release from this afternoon, small businesses may face yet another hurdle in providing health care for employees.

Here's the low-down from JK's office:

Senator John Kerry (D- Mass.), top Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, vowed today to oppose Republican legislation that will preempt state benefit and rating mandates. The Small Business Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (S. 1955), approved by the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee last month on a party line vote, is expected to be brought up by the full Senate as early as tomorrow.

"Affordable health care should be a right for all Americans, not a privilege for the elected and the connected. But in our eagerness to fix the problem, we cannot let America's hard working entrepreneurs, our small business owners, be used as a political pawn to move legislation that will put health care beyond the reach of the very people who need it most," said Kerry, who put forward ideas in 2004 that are now included in the Small Employers Health Benefits Program Act (S. 2510). Kerry is a leading cosponsor of the legislation and does not support S. 1955 sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).

S. 1955 proposes sweeping changes to the insurance market that go beyond helping small groups, including placing a ceiling on which benefits have to be covered by any insurance plan. This would likely result in lower premiums for healthy workers and soaring premiums for those most in need of health care coverage.

"No one should be fooled by this wolf in sheep's clothing; striking down decades of consumer advocacy protections at the state level will prove to be a boon for the insurance industry, not small businesses and not the American people. Congress can and must act to make affordable health care accessible to small businesses and all Americans, and we have a real opportunity to cross partisan lines and get the job done," said Kerry.

In addition, the bill would establish new association health plans, which could be sold by business and trade associations to their member businesses. These health plans could erode important consumer protections by circumventing state benefits and rating mandates. The unintended consequence would be insurers that cherry pick healthy workers effectively pricing those most in need of health insurance out of the market.

"Under S. 1955, insurers would be free to discriminate, with virtually no restrictions, according to health, age, gender and more. That means that rates for many small business plans would increase, not decrease. If every small business is charged differently depending upon the age and health of their employees, every employer bargains alone, risk isn't shared, and there is no benefit to being part of a purchasing pool," said John Arensmeyer, Founder and CEO of Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy group. "Moreover, in many states, valuable state benefit and service requirements such as preventive care, maternity and independent review procedures, would be eviscerated by the proposed legislation, weakening the ability of small businesses to offer meaningful health care to their employees."

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, since 2000, the number of small firms with less than 200 employees offering health coverage has declined from 68 percent to 59 percent while 98 percent of large employers provide health care.

Hundreds of small business and health advocacy organizations along with 39 state attorneys general have made their sentiments on the Republican health care plan clear.

"This bill will push consumers into barebones health insurance plans that contravene existing state laws guaranteeing coverage for such crucial services as cervical, prostate, and colorectal cancer screenings, as well as mammograms, mental health, and well-child care," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director for Families USA. "Anyone wishing to retain decent health coverage consistent with existing state laws, instead of barebones policies, will wind up with much higher premiums than they pay today."

In contrast, Kerry supports creating a national purchasing pool for small businesses that helps them get lower costs by establishing the Office of Personnel Management as the agency responsible for negotiating rates with insurers, which is included in the Small Employers Health Benefits Program Act. This bill would provide real relief for businesses with fewer than 100 employees, protect important state benefit mandates, stabilize premiums for small business owners, and establish subsidies to encourage participation.

Kerry is also advocating to help small businesses with the cost of health care premiums by giving those with less than 50 employees a refundable tax credit.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Tie Day: Reading is sexy edition

Reading is sexy, and there's a t-shirt to prove it.

Exhibit A: This pic from Friday, of John Kerry with Douglas Brinkley's new book,
The Great Deluge : Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast tucked under his arm. (And Douglas Brinkley tucked nowhere, but wearing a fetching necktie. He must have known it was Tie Day.)

The book doesn't come out until Tuesday, but since JK was the subject of another Brinkley book, I guess I can't begrudge him his advanced copy.

(Truth be told, I can't begrudge him much of anything when he's wearing that graph paper shirt. Also - and it might seem totally obsessive to fangirl somebody's biographer, but I always forget how cute Douglas Brinkley is. For his part, let me say that writing is sexy, too.)

If you want to be sexy on your own before The Great Deluge hits the shelves, there's always Senator Kennedy's new book, which actually cost me $10 more at my local bookstore than it does on Amazon, but that's okay, because Kerry fans support small businesses!
And for free online, Bob's thoughts on The Imperial Presidency make for good, thought-provoking, start-the-week-off-ready-to-fight-evil reading.