On The Occasion Of My 63rd Birthday

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On the occasion of my 63rd birthday, I'd like to thank former President Obama. Without his help, I'd likely have health insurance. Instead, I'm thankful that I only have 2 more years until qualifying for Medicare.

Sure, I know what you're thinking. The ACA promised coverage for people like me, those without traditional employer-based health insurance. And it certainly has covered some people. According to Politifact, about 5.5 million people gained coverage directly and another 14.5 million gained coverage through Medicaid.

Unfortunately, I'm too rich for Medicaid.

On the other hand, I'm too poor for private insurance.

The only policy offered in my area costs $820 per month and has obscene co-pays and deductibles that exceed $12,000 annually. Basic math indicates that Premiums + Copays + Deductibles = Ed Is Screwed. As an aside, my mortgage payment, at $814 per month, is cheaper than health insurance premiums would be. Yeah, I could abandon my house and live under a bridge, happily insured but still unable to afford to see a doctor. Sounds like a winning strategy, doesn't it?

If I were a mean person, I'd spend my birthday grousing about how Medicare For All would have helped tremendously. Even a phased-in version that simply lowered the age of eligibility by 10 years every few years would've been nice.

But hey, former President Obama did come out for Medicare For All (sort of) this past September. Sadly for me, his lack of support back in '09 when ACA was festering through Congress doomed its chances of becoming reality any time before I turn 65 and qualify for traditional Medicare.

THEN: “When you hear the naysayers claim that I’m trying to bring about government-run health care, know this. They are not telling the truth,” Obama told the American Medical Association in a 2009 speech.

NOW: “Democrats aren’t just running on good old ideas like a higher minimum wage,” said Obama during a 2018 speech in Illinois. “They’re running on good new ideas like Medicare for all.”

So as you send happy birthday thoughts winging my way, keep your fingers crossed that I survive to become productively covered on my 65th. Don't let my bad heart valve worry you. I'm sure it's good for another two years.

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Granma's picture

I'm sending good wishes for your heart valve and your health. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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16 users have voted.
edg's picture

@Granma

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7 users have voted.
QMS's picture

Still am, now that I ponder it. Happy birthday! I applied for SSA benefits at 62. Not quite enough to live on, so I guess I'll have to chase a paycheck for awhile, long as I can. Figured if I drew what they gave me for 8 years, would get back the dollars I gave into the system. Adjusted for inflation, the 1965 thru 1995 dollars they took from my paychecks, it would take about 18 to 20 years to get my money back. What a scam. And medicare? Got more holes than swiss cheese. They are pushing 'Advantage' now -- code for privately managed. Come 2020, we may be SOOL. Good luck and have fun!

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25 users have voted.

Listen to your higher mind.

Wink's picture

My "Advantage" Plan has
@QMS
no Premium cost, low Deductible, covers basic Dental. With Medicare + Advantage I pay about $145 /mo. Or about $375 less than O'bummerCare for better coverage.
$375 real money on retirement! So, yeah, Medicare not Free, or maybe what it's cracked up to be, either, but it sure beats the hell out of going without!

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17 users have voted.

the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

QMS's picture

@Wink
Am a bit leery of where that 'Advantage' thing is headed, but if it is working for you, great!

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10 users have voted.

Listen to your higher mind.

Wink's picture

believe it to be horse$h!t,
@QMS
Big Insurance creep. Didn't mean to imply otherwise.
Just as it sits it's not a bad deal. Yet.
And I don't know what we can do, if anything, to slow or halt Big Insurance creep into Medicare, but hope Med4All ends that b.s.

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2 users have voted.

the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

@Wink My friend travelled 40 miles from his home to Houston, to attend a charity function. Possibly a veterans' charity event.
And he had a major heart attack. His network hospital was 6 blocks farther than the nearest hospital ER. He asked the paramedics to ambulance him to his network hospital. Their contract with Harris County wouldn't allow it. He refused to get in the ambulance.
His wife told me he said he would rather die on the spot than leave her with $100,000 in medical bills.
He lived another 5 or 6 weeks, died in a network nursing home/rehab center after his network doctors tried to work on him.
I helped her go through the process of closing his law office. I took a couple of clients of his pro bono.
I just can't stay within a parameter set by a fucking insurance plan, no matter it would save me $450 a month.
I go all over the state and the United States. My lifestyle doesn't include carrying maps with green dots on good hospitals, black for bad ones.
His did. He left this world with very little debt, and he made sure his wife was solvent.
RIP, Peter.

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31 users have voted.

You are truly a gem.

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edg's picture

@Linda Wood

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6 users have voted.

days I defended the ACA so many times it now makes me sick. What a scam, just one more way to allow ahem, "Capitalists" to suck off of taxpayer dollars. A friend of mine just got her latest notice on new premiums, just for her and she's mid 40 but does have Type 2 diabetes, $620 per month, and she didn't even detail out the deductibles. Now whenever I hear someone defend Obamacare it's all I can do not to say anything, and usually I don't manage to hold my tongue anymore on that one. I really don't manage to hold my tongue on much these days but oh well, it's too late for that now IMHO.

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21 users have voted.

It's the old Obama incrementalism. How much would you be paying for health insurance if the ACA wasn't able to pass? Would you even be able to get health insurance? It passed right after Edward Kennedy's vote was replaced by the photogenic pickup truck man, which I believe gave the Republicans the Senate or created a tie. If Kennedy was able to vote, I think we would have had a public option.

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15 users have voted.

Beware the bullshit factories.

ggersh's picture

Maybe just maybe AOC pushing this might turn
the trick.

according to this clowngress/shits only pay $90 p/mo

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/04/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-calls-for-medic...

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18 users have voted.

The US markets will be closed tomorrow in honor of George H. W. Bush.

We should have a memorial day for the truth, which we have allowed to be led down the blind alley of our willful delusions, and strangled.

Lord have mercy on us.

gulfgal98's picture

I hope you are enjoying your special day. It is great to have you as a part of our Caucus family! Good

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18 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

edg's picture

@gulfgal98

I love the picture of your pom. Ours was named Sheba. Unfortunately, a rural vet here in AZ killed her when she was 12 by overdosing anesthesia for a teeth cleaning.

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4 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Apparently 1955 was a very good year for offspring. Was there something in the water? A cold fall and winter of 54? I hate to say me three but yup, another '55. That also just turned 63, and can't afford insurance. I thought sure this would not be the situation or case at this point in life and time in society. I over-estimated how exceptional we were as a people at the things that really matter. Who would have thought this would be acceptable?

Happy Birthday

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23 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

edg's picture

@dystopian

I never thought I'd be at this stage of life lacking insurance either. Maybe sometime in the future the United States will be mature enough to have healthcare for all.

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10 users have voted.

Same here except I'm still a decade away
The aca is a joke. The entire thing is a joke

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edg's picture

@Bessie

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snoopydawg's picture

Hoping that the two years will be uneventful for you. How insane is it to want to be older at this age just so you can qualify for health insurance?

IMG_2869.GIF

The Empty Suit could have passed single payer if he actually wanted to from NYCeve's coverage of it on DK, but we know how he rathered make insurance companies invincible and to never have them threatened with extinction. After the ACA passed I was told that it was just the first step towards single payer. Don't you just love how hard democrats have been working on that since then?

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25 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

@snoopydawg
67. 11 years later & I'm still going strong. Kaiser health insurance is only $110 per year, so I made it through that mess OK.
The 2008 Bankster deal was harder, but we are still in the house I built--no thanks to the SOB in either case.
Eat healthy, exercise, and watch your weight--you'll be fine.

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chuck utzman

You can blame me. I did not vote for Her Heinous.

snoopydawg's picture

@chuckutzman

Yeah that bank deal was hard to swallow wasn't it? And it wasn't just that $700 billion that we were told it was. More like many trillions and all behind the scenes. And now the weak protections that were put in place have been nullified thanks to some help from democrats.

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17 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

@chuckutzman
I had 5 friends on Kaiser. 2 are happy. 1 is in a wheelchair for life because an x-ray tech couldn't be bothered to retake a blurred image, so no one saw the bone spurs in his neck, the other 2 are dead - 1 from an infection he got from surgery, the other because of a long story, essentially they refused to switch him to a medication because it cost $.50 a day more when the one they were prescribing didn't work.

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14 users have voted.

A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

edg's picture

@snoopydawg

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4 users have voted.

I spent $140,000, more or less, before Medicare triggered.
I never met the deductibles. I would love to have that set aside in a retirement account, but noooo!
I am happy you have a home, and that your funky heart valve is nevertheless working as though it were not funky.

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16 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@on the cusp

I can imagine how you wish you could change buying that insurance. I'm seeing people suggesting that others take what they would pay in premiums and put it into health savings accounts instead.

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7 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

mimi's picture

so crossed it hurts my knuckles. Wink

If it may console you a bit or distract you, I always get a blank stare in my eyes when I try to understand what all those 'public option', 'single payer', 'medicare for all', 'medicaid for some' is really all about. It has been written so much about it, I am just angry that I still can't grasp it and just give it up and read barely half way through most of the articles trying to explain it.

So, here is my health insurance life story. Just for entertainment.

Before I came to the US I was insured in Germany. Then, oOnce upon the time (early eighties) I was insured over my then husband's insurance. I was never sick and never needed a doctor, so I was not aware if it was a good health insurance coverage or a bad one. Same thing for my husband. I assumed it was a good one, as his employer was an international organization and I think they would get into a lot of troubles if they were not offering their international employees a good health insurance package.

Then I walked away from my marriage and looked for a job. My employers were all German companies with offices inside the US, but way too small in the US to offer health insurance coverage for their locally hired employees. As I didn't have health insurance coverage, I got a private health insurance provider through a German company, whose insurance would cover me even in the US. (They don't do that anymore). It was not cheap, but still payable, while I was still working.

Finally around 2009 or so, my German employer inside the US managed to offer health insurance coverage and I ended up to choose Kaiser Permanente in the state of MD. It was really inexpensive, like 25 dollars a month.

Then I left MD and moved for a time to HI. I got the same Kaiser Permanente program in HI, but it was now a premium of over 300 dollars. So, I was quite surprised about that. In addition I was by then retired and became poor. Made me nervous.

I returned to Germany with the hope the German Health Insurance company I had in the sixties and seventies in Germany would take me back in. There was little hope for that, because according to German regulations, in order to have a right to be taken back in, you were not allowed to be more than 10 years out of their program, like for people like me who lived overseas.

Well, I had forgotten one thing though. I went back home (to Germany) and worked there for four months in 1998/99 and was therefore mandatorily health insured again in Germany and I had chosen then the same health insurance provider I had back in my early years. But because I just worked for a short time there, I had forgotten all about it. It turned out to be my health-life-saver. I worked in the US til 2014 after my four month German stay and then retired one year early (age 65 instead of age 66).

When I came back to Germany in 2016, I walked into my former German Health Insurance provider's office in my home town and asked if they can take me back in, explaining that I was insured with them in the sixties and seventies. I didn't expect they would find me in their computer system. But ... they found me from my work in 1998/99 and said they will take me back, although again I was out of their system again for more than ten years. The lady said, she is bad in math and can't count the years properly with an eye twinkle. I was quite happy about it and relieved.

I have to tell you that I will never leave that program again and feel very relieved that I am covered for everything for sure no matter what. My premiums are adjusted to my retirement income, so I can pay them. They don't cover me in the US though.

Now I have US SS benefits and German retirment benefits, both real small. The US doesn't consider my German retirement income and so I am very poor for the US. I don't have to pay income taxes in the US anymore. The Germans are not that nice, they take my US SS benefits into account for my income and I do have pay income taxes in Germany. So, I pay more taxes in Germany, but can afford the health insurance.

Then I realized that Medicare payments were deducted from my US SS benefits and I asked them, if I HAVE to have medicare (US Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany) and they told me no, I don't have to, but if I get out of Medicare, I will never get back in again. So, I have now both, Medicare and that German Insurance. Makes a lot of sense, right?

Now there is another thingy about not staying outside the US for more than year, or else... but that goes off topic a bit.

I hope you get into Medicare. I hate the US for their healthcare system. It is cruel. I still don't understand why my premium in MD was so low. So, one can say, it's an incomprehensible system for common old people. Why are their programs even different in each US state?

An ongoing joke in my mini family is, 'why make something simple, if you have the chance to make everything complicated'?

Only in America. Bless their souls.

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edg's picture

@mimi

Only in America can we spend more than any other country in the world on health care yet cover fewer people and occasionally have worse medical outcomes.

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8 users have voted.

@mimi
I used to pay around $270 a month for family insurance, but when I was downsized out, my COBRA was $1300+. My employer had subsidized me for $1000 a month.

Now I have FEHB Blue Cross as a Postal retiree. Premiums are around $1500 less a $1000 a month subsidy from the Postal Service. Decent insurance for $400-$500 is just a dream.

All those Republicans who said they had great insurance for $100 - $200 a month before Obamacare invalidated their policies are either lying or never needed it for anything more than vaccinations and annual checkups.

Those estimates for MFA at $34B come to $400 a YEAR for a family of four. Howard Dean said that Vermont covered every kid for $300 per year each. MFA numbers don't add up.
Either that or insurance has a 16000X markup.

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5 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

(for Feds). I knew that the recently posted article (quoting AOC) had to be wrong, because, in the late 70's/early 80's, I paid almost as much for my FEHB premium/coverage. And, for a number of years, the plans I selected were not particularly comprehensive, because, I only needed 'secondary' coverage to Mr M's very excellent primary coverage.

I'm 'guessing' that the author confused the ACA Exchange (via the Kaiser plan calculator) with the DC Health Link--which is where Congress and their staff members shop for their subsidized 'gold' health insurance plans.

Blue Onyx

"Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong."
~~W. R. Purche

"Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.

They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made."

~~Roger Caras, Author, "A Celebration Of Dogs"

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3 users have voted.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

dkmich's picture

Good ol' Obama. He did so little to help so few.

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15 users have voted.

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

*donate to c99 *like us on Facebook *follow us on Twitter

edg's picture

@dkmich

Obama did so much to help so few. The lucky few.

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6 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

And according to most employers, I may as well shoot myself. All because I didn't fit into the typical mold of the well-off, well-connected, well-adjusted douchebag.

For what it's worth, happy birthday.

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10 users have voted.

Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

edg's picture

@The Aspie Corner

I've been in the computer field for 45 years. I think I got to be "too old" in the eyes of most employers by the time I was 25.

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9 users have voted.

@edg One guy who follows high tech salaries, H1b visas, age job discrimination, etc claimed the age at which high tech employers see workers as too old is 35. "Too old" being a euphemism for "time to get rid of you cause we can hire somebody cheaper". Some people are now saying that Indian engineers are getting the same treatment in India.

One thing I noticed after I got laid off (job was moved to India) is that there is a whole cottage industry of HR contractors, interview specialists, HR recruiters, etc whose major purpose is to justify that you the high tech worker got laid off because you were just behind the times, especially as compared to foreign educated engineers. One so called expert claimed that American engineers were 8 generations behind in the latest technologies. Infoweek claims that the top four most in demand languages in 2018 were Java, Python, C++, and and Javascript. All languages which I believe were born in the 1980's. For hardware design Verilog and VHDL developed in the 1980's I believe.

https://www.informationweek.com/devops/programming-languages/10-most-in-...

As an aside, I believe that age and "salary discrimination" are leading factors for the existence of so much shitty and unsecure software--the people who develop many major subsystems have little to no experience and background.

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9 users have voted.

@MrWebster
and having to step down to become a lowly mechanic. Just a few years after becoming a mechanic for the USPS, I attended the funeral of a friend's wife. All the company guys were there and talking about the job market. They told me that $30 an hour was the going rate for independents (no benefits) with some jobs as low as $25 an hour. I though "My God! that's less than I make as a mechanic with full benefits, vacation, sick days, pension, holidays and a union to enforce it all!"

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5 users have voted.

@The Voice In the Wilderness Yah, I have seen contractor rates utterly collapse in all areas. One buddy who is a tech writer with an engineering degree took a contractor job at $16/hr when previously the going rate was between $40-$60/hr. Another guy I know who got laid from a major company helps others with finding new jobs. And he said easily over half of the engineers have never found work in their fields and this over several years.

My advice now after getting laid off is for anybody in high tech to develop some hobby, skill, etc into something that can be used to get a job. Two guys I know became union bus/shuttle drivers.

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4 users have voted.

@MrWebster as a hobby. Otherwise, I would have had to become a machine operator (misnomered as "clerk") for considerably less money. But, I aced the test and my fellow mechanics were amazed at how good I was with computer controlled machinery. I had designed them for 25 years. And what a laugh when "higher authority" decided to lock us out of a password level that we needed to access to keep the mail flowing. I kept resetting it and they thought someone was reloading the software. we had snap inspections with checks of toolboxes, desks and lockers looking for bootleg installation disks. Each time they came up with a scheme, I just thought "Now how would some half-brained H1-B code this?" and I was always right. It was Windoze so it was easy to break in. The first time they had the password in an .ini file with the title "passwords"! Like taking candy from a baby. I had no remorse. My job was to keep the machines functioning so that your mail would flow safely and properly, not to obey some high level idiot manager. Just like when I worked for the Navy. I regarded my "customer" to be the bluejackets on ships in harm's way, not idiot (and obviously corrupt) political appointees.

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@The Voice In the Wilderness

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@MrWebster

I should add that the truly professional mechanics were wizards at what they did well. When I had trouble installing a bearing or diagnosing a mechanical problem, my mates were always there for me. And i was always there for them when a computer hiccuped.

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Big Al's picture

I'm also a 1955 creation. Hang in there brother. Been doing a little research on the Medicare for All/Single payer issue. It's fraught with peril in the hands of the duopoly, and therefore the oligarchy, no doubt.

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12 users have voted.
edg's picture

@Big Al

Medicare for All is a real conundrum for businesses. On the one hand, they'd like to avoid the expense of providing insurance for employees. On the other, they use providing insurance for employees as a way to help keep the peons in line.

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13 users have voted.
Bisbonian's picture

@edg Where in "rural Arizona" is home? I know you have mentioned it, forgive my lousy memory.

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3 users have voted.

"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

edg's picture

@Bisbonian

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Bisbonian's picture

@edg . We ought to try a get-together sometime. Azazello is in Tucson.

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1 user has voted.

"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

edg's picture

@Bisbonian

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Outsourcing Is Treason's picture

I’m partially to blame for the rise of Obama. I am so sorry. Here’s the story.

In 2004 I was an unemployed software engineer living in the Boston area. My job had disappeared in 2002 as a result of offshore outsourcing. John Kerry was running for President. He gave me hope by expressing opposition to the Iraq war. True he voted for it but after all he did have peace creds having founded and run the VVAW (Vietnam Veterans Against the War). And he famously called heads of companies that outsource jobs offshore “Benedict Arnold CEOs”. This inspired my screen name that I took when I joined dKos that year, and kept when I moved here.

So in 2004, as an unemployed software engineer living in the Boston area, inspired by John Kerry, I volunteered to work at the Democratic National Convention, which that year was in Boston.

Because of my professional background I was assigned to the volunteer IT squad and helped run their systems. I was given three daytime and one evening time slots to work.

The evening shift just happened to be the one where an Illinois US Senate candidate named Barack Obama gave the keynote speech. It was his famous “Red States / Blue States / United States” speech, the one that propelled him to national prominence. I was working my IT magic at the time and helped make it happen.

Obama was an amazingly charismatic speaker, and I helped give him the platform to bullshit his way into the White House.

The rest is history. Ed and 30 million other Americans now have no healthcare as a result and I am so, so sorry.

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14 users have voted.

"Please clap." -- Jeb Bush

edg's picture

@Outsourcing Is Treason

Your confession is accepted. Go forth and sin no more. Smile

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

the situation permits, been following proposals to 'reform' Medicare. One of the most worrisome proposals is one that will create a Committee appointed by the US Comptroller General (remember David Walker, folks?) to recommend reforms, and oversee it. IOW, to create 'efficiencies' in the Medicare program. Yikes!

Hopefully, progressives can beat back that effort, since it's mostly 'cover' for converting Traditional Medicare into a 'managed care' system, possibly, one that's even worse than Medicare Advantage. I'd say that it's a relatively serious effort, since a deal was struck with Pelosi, recently--she'll support the Rep bringing the Bill to the floor, in exchange for his vote (for her for Speaker Of The House).

Hey, best of luck, especially, with your heart valve. Maybe a miracle will happen, and all the corporatist neoliberals will simply go away!

Pleasantry

Blue Onyx

"Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong."
~~W. R. Purche

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4 users have voted.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

wishing you good luck and good health.

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2 users have voted.

If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet