Monthly Archives: March 2010

People Really Believe This CRAP!!!

This was actually posted on a friends facebook page:

“Just heard the most remarkable statement by a Russian native on CNN. Could not believe CNN didn’t edit it. Old Russian woman “You American people don’t understand, you need to listen what they are telling you! I have lived it, this is exactly how Communism works! It is becoming the Soviet Union all over again.” wow!”

This friend is a good guy.  But he is also a hard-core conservative and has no realization that something good can come of this or that he is believing and repeating the panicked rhetoric and other unfounded reactions of other conservatives and Republicans. He jumped on the chance to use CNN instead of Fox News as his source but I wanted to see this video for myself and cannot find this relevant evidence on CNN, Cnn.com or even youtube.  Remember the Republicans… you know the entire party that did not participate in the creation of the healthcare reform bill because they were not in control and resented the Democrats being in charge and doing something for Americans instead of acting on behalf of Insurance companies, Health Management Organizations and Pharmaceutical Conglomerates.  The Republicans are more interested in playing a blame game to try to regain political control instead of actually being bipartisan and participate in creating this bill.  It is so sad that their “power in Washington” is more important to them than trying to actually do some good for Americans.  Since they could not get their DEMANDS all the time… they took their ball and went home!!   Sen. John McCain vows, “There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year,” McCain said during an interview Monday on an Arizona radio affiliate. “They have poisoned the well in what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.” *(2)  He earlier said, “The first casualty of the Democratic health care bill will be immigration reform. If the health care bill goes through this weekend, that will, in my view, pretty much kill any chance of immigration reform passing the Senate this year.” *(3)  Talk about sour grapes and a bad sport!!  And he was a presidential candidate.  Why can’t politicians just represent their constituents and quit representing their party affiliation?  I say this to Democrats as well.  The PARTY POLITICS HAS TO STOP!!  How sincere was the invitation from the Democrats for the Republicans to join the debate?  But the Republicans should not have cried and gave up to only change their game plan to traditional party politics.  Both parties together could have created a better plan… but I am happy we have something.  I also hope the Republican party makes comments soon that John McCain does not speak for all Republicans and there will be a real effort to do more great things for Americans now this bitter fight is over.

Also England has had socialized Medicine since 1911 for all workers over 16 and in 1948 extended the system to the entire population.  Last I checked… socialized healthcare has made England neither Communist nor Socialist.  England remains a capitalist democracy.  In an international comparative study of the health care systems in six countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United States), the British health care system was ranked in first place for quality of care. It also gained first rank position for equity and efficiency and a top place ranking for performance overall.*(1)  Amidst all the misinformation about Canada’s universal healthcare system (also called Medicare) which began nationwide in 1966, 43 years later Canada is still not Socialist or Communist.  85.2% of Canadians reported that they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the way health care services are provided in their country and an even higher number (89.8%) rated their physician in the same way though slightly lower ratings were awarded to hospitals (79.9% being “satisfied” or “very satisfied”) *(4)  I bet you could not find 85% of Americans to be satisfied with anything much less healthcare!!  lol  Israel established socialized healthcare since the country was established in 1948 and it remains the sole democracy in the Middle East, well the sole democracy until America leaves Iraq and Afghanistan. lol

The next issue with this argument – the healthcare reform bill is not socialism!!  lol  Or it is not any more socialist than the police forces, fire protection, public education or city water systems used in the United States.  These are all services that are funded by taxes and are shared by citizens.  So why would medical services be considered socialist if these other well established and accepted services are not considered socialist systems?  When politicians use words like socialism to describe anything… it is only to cause fear and panic because their argument is to weak to stand on its own.  It also displays to the educated they do not understand the meaning of the words they are using!! lol

This is where I get ugly…. sorry…. but a day or two before my friend posted that status message on facebook he explained to me as a father, he is concerned for his son.  That is understandable.  Fathers want the best for their kids.  But what about that father with a sick child that has fallen in the cracks, is uninsured and wants desperately to help his son, daughter, or even his wife but has no insurance or access to healthcare?  What about a kid with a serious illness like Spina Bifida, Juvenile Diabetes or Leukemia ….. he or she has a pre-existing condition for life and will make his or her having insurance after he is grown nearly impossible in the current healthcare system.  What about the caps insurance places on treatment of costly illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis or cancer?  How is the healthcare reform bad in these situations? ….. Because sadly, my friend and a lot of Americans are not concerned with that other father… he is not concerned about the pre-existing condition that child will live with long after he or she leaves his or her father’s house…. he is not concerned about the caps on treatments for illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis or Cancer….  he is only concerned with how he feels NOW and is not open to think beyond what he has been taught and believes because as a conservative he is more concerned about his politics.  HE is in a position as a father to protect his child by supporting the healthcare reform bill, help his unemployed neighbor or even a sick former co-worker.  I do not say “he” like “he” is the only one! He is typical of Americans… he is scared… they are scared.

Change is hard and yes, even frightening.  I also feel they are scared of the 1/2 black, Democratic  President that has accomplished something that his predictors have been unsuccessful at achieving and OMG what happens when a President can accomplish things with the cooperation of Congress?  We only have to look to the Bush administration that has left us in 2 wars that has cost more than this healthcare reform will cost, Bush started the big Bailouts for the banks and the economy was crap when Obama inherited his office.  Bush accomplished this with his same party controlled Congress.  So a President getting what he wants from Congress is not new…. but a Democrat President getting what he wants is new!!  Keep it up President Obama – keep fighting for me and the other Americans that have not been able to afford to buy our influence in Washington D.C.!!

I have been that uninsured person with a chronic illness and I want no one to be in that same or even a similar situation.  I want to ask the Americans that are upset about the healthcare reform bill to just take one second to realize they can be happy for the ones this will help – even if it is not them!  But if they take the time to learn what the bill is… they will see it is good, the U.S. will not become socialist or communist as a result and most of all – we can share even healthcare in a country as great as the United States of America.  Others do not have to be WITHOUT insurance so others CAN have insurance.  Americans are not as selfish and uncaring as they are presenting themselves to be to the rest of the world with this issue… Americans need to think, read and learn about this (and other) issues without trusting only one news source like CNN, Fox News or even The Daily Show. But I do kind of like they are getting a taste of the fear I lived with, without having an actual bad situation at hand.  But they are getting the taste without having to eat the whole meal I have choked on for 2 years.

President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”  I change that just a little to say, Americans ask not what I can do for myself, ask what can we do for each other. Americans may be afraid of change… I was afraid there would be no change and I thank GOD there is a change!

I feel there is Hope Again for a New way of life for the forgotten Americans!!

Although almost 90% of my blog is opinion, I try not to rely on rhetoric… I try to show where information I consider relevant comes from lol Sources below:

*(1)  Davis, Karen; Cathy Schoen et. al. (May 2007). “MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL: AN INTERNATIONAL UPDATE ON THE COMPARATIVE PERFORMANCE OF AMERICAN HEALTH CARE”

*(2)  http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/88285-mccain-dont-expect-gop-cooperation-the-rest-of-this-year

*(3)  http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/vengeance-will-be-mccains

*(4)  “Healthy Canadians: Canadian government report on comparable health care indicators”

Advertisements
Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ignorance Is Bliss

Healthcare remains a HOT issue in the U.S.!  But if people actually took the time to read for themselves what is going on, maybe they would not be so frightened.  Ignorance is bliss, but I ask that you take the time to try to learn about what you think you are afraid of – Let’s turn on the lights and see the is no Boogie Man!!!

The highlights of the immediate change are:

  • No more caps on severe or catastrophic illnesses.
  • Help for the uninsured with pre-existing conditions.
  • Children will be able to remain on parents insurance until age 26.
  • Drug discount for seniors.

The highlights of changes for 2014 are:

  • Health insurance exchanges will be created to help insure small businesses, self-employed and the uninsured.
  • Health insurance will be required or individual will be penalized.
  • Medicaid expansion.
  • Tax breaks for families based on income.

I find none of these to be bad.  I see no reason for this to cause concern or alarm.

Here is my story – I am an uninsured American that has found refuge in Colombia, South America.  I have had Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for over 13 years and a few years back, my doctor determined I needed to be on disability.  I had worked for over 25 years and since I knew I had MS, I thought I had prepared for the possibility I would not be able to work one day.  In this post I will not even begin to describe the problems I have had with Cigna (my private disability insurer) but will only focus on the healthcare insurance aspect.  During the process of being approved for disability I was paying for my health insurance through COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act).  I moved from private short-term disability to private long-term insurance then to Social Security Disability and this process took all the time COBRA covers and left me 4 months uninsured.  I thought once on Social Security Disability I would have Medicare and was STRESSED to find out that I would have to wait 2 years to qualify for Medicare which meant 2 more years with no health insurance while living with MS.  Bush was still President and there was NO discussion of Healthcare Reform.  I began looking for alternatives and even applied for Medicaid.  The results.. even just with disability… I made a whopping $8 a month too much to qualify!  So I found myself living at home with my family (who does not have the money to help me but tries all they can) with no insurance, no alternatives for insurance and a chronic illness getting worse.

My search for alternative places began with looking for climates that better suited my condition.  Colombia fit this need.  Then I found Colombia has private insurance companies that do not cover pre-existing conditions, government option health insurance (called E.P.S.) which residents pay an affordable price to participate in and does cover pre-existing conditions, and there is also a system that is similar to the U.S. Medicare/Medicaid that assists the very poor and senior citizens for free.  I also found that prescriptions are also covered.  One of my medications in the U.S. with no insurance cost $1,500 a month (more than I make each month) and the other treatments have higher or similar costs.  I began to investigate how I could an American participate.  It turns out… there is a law requiring residents to have health insurance and the Colombian Consulate was happy to give me a resident visa.  The U.S. cannot consider a plan that works for another country because this system does not kiss the insurance companies asses.  It turns out Colombia has not only addressed the issue of Healthcare, but also immigration reform (they like to let visitors come as tourist and enjoy that they want to be residents as well), gays can receive equal governmental benefits via a civil union (everyone gets civil unions here from the government gay or straight and the church issues marriage certificates), and although drugs may be made in the jungles of Colombia… there is no drug epidemic in the cities of Colombia like in the U.S.  I have found that Colombia is much more progressive politically, socially and environmentally on issues American can not even discuss civilly.

Recently I posted on my facebook page “Americans are upset about healthcare reform.  I ask you to take one second and quit complaining about how this may affect you and take time to be thankful for the millions that have not had access that will be able to have insurance without having to leave the country”.  This is an actual response from a relative of mine “Since you are on disability and had health care and still made the decision to move out of our country, I really don’t want to listen to you discuss what is going on here. You lost that right when you chose to leave. Key word here: CHOSE.”  I had to explain that I dd NOT have healthcare and asked what choice she would have made.  I explained my situation and here is her response, “You are right; I had no right to say anything to you. This is a very touchy situation and those of us that have worked hard for our health care had rather not have to pay for healthcare for those sitting on their butts living on welfare! Let’s all quit our jobs and let the Gov’t completely support us! Get real Tommy. Do they have welfare in Columbia? Yes, this free health care works great in countries that don’t have welfare. Our country can’t afford it, and we shouldn’t have to suffer because of it!”  The U.S. cannot afford this?  The U.S. has spent close to $1 trillion on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan (http://costofwar.com/), but the U.S. government cannot afford healthcare?  Since when did war become more affordable and more important than citizens health?  Why does healthcare cost so much to begin with?

I guess I had not worked hard enough while working for 10 years with Multiple Sclerosis. lol  About 11% of Americans are on welfare and ALREADY have Medicaid (government-run healthcare), so what else is she thinking she will have to pay for the people sitting on their butts that she does not already pay for?  Healthcare reform is for the people who do not have access to insurance through work (opps working people), people with catastrophic illnesses (we understand it is expensive to treat cancer… but after X amount, you are not worth covering and that is acceptable behavior for insurance companies), people with pre-existing conditions (damn lazy people who have sat on their butts and not curing the diseases they have) and uninsured ( people who cannot pay crazy expensive health insurance premiums with honest days wages – they should have gone to college and let the illegal immigrants have their low paying job), and expanding Medicaid (OMG poor people, when they get sick… we should just put them to sleep like an old dog).  But an expansion of Medicaid would help cover the working poor not the freeloaders sitting on their butts. So lets not reform or change anything because “I (any American)” might have to pay something more for the less fortunate!!

Contrary to her opinion, I did work hard, I tried to be prepared for illness or disability and my CHOICES were taken from me, my preparation was useless.  Few Americans realize how close they are to being in my situation.  But I have resolved my issue of not having insurance by taking extreme but necessary changes.  I would love to know what choices I had that I did not consider before leaving the United States?  I would like to know what others would have done in my situation that I had not already tried.

This blog will continue tomorrow I have only commented on one statement I find completely confused about and do not understand as a response to healthcare reform.  I will discuss one of these comments and if time permits both:

“Nebraska Senator’s status: Obama’s healthcare plan was written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn’t read it, signed by a President that smokes, funded by a Treasury Chief that didn’t pay his taxes, overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese, and financed by …a country that is nearly broke. What could possibly go wrong?”

and this comment and exchange:

“Everyone, your new Medicaid card is now in the mail! Bad day gang!”

Categories: Colombia, Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Altruism & Pork

This e-mail was in my inbox :

Subjet: A GREAT LETTER TO THE CLARION LEDGER EDITOR

This was written to the Clarion Ledger by one of our General Surgery residents at UMC. I don’t think he could’ve illustrated this more perfectly!! And, I 100% agree with him!!!! PAUL

Dear Sirs:

During my last night’s shift in the ER, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient with a shiny new gold tooth, multiple elaborate tattoos, a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and a new cellular telephone equipped with her favorite R&B tune for a ringtone. Glancing over the chart, one could not help noticing her payer status: Medicaid. She smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and, somehow, still has money to buy beer. And our Congress expects me to pay for this woman’s health care? Our nation’s health care crisis is not a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. It is a crisis of culture —20a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture that thinks “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”. Life is really not that hard. Most of us reap what we sow. Don’t you agree?

STARNER JONES,MD
Jackson, MS

NO I DO NOT AGREE!!

I have more faith in the person that sent this to me than is indicated by that person perpetuating this kind of poor argument to a bigger problem than gold teeth and R&B ringtones on new cellphones of tattooed girls on Medicaid. The doctor shows little compassion considering he is a resident at a medical center and not a law clerk for a judge. I prefer my doctors to treat medical conditions and leave the judging to Judges. I feel Dr. Jones actually represents a crisis in our culture as well as the patient he discusses! But he is educated and should know better. I dare say he had many more opportunities in life than the girl he so easily judges!

Thanks – Hope you ENJOY!!

My response for Dr. Jones and others that agree with him:

ALTRUISM & PORK

What has happened to America’s ALTRUISM? 46,000,000 people in the U.S. have no insurance and the other 250,000,000 are scared shitless !! They are scared because they have sit on their butts and done NOTHING to help the uninsured for so long, that now it could possibly affect them, they wake up. But the sad thing is they do not wake up out of concern of the uninsured, they are only worried about themselves and how it affects them! Shame on us! I support REFORM, but not what Congress is trying to pass off as reform. It is just more bureaucracy and pork.

Altruism is defined by Merriam-Webster as: “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others[1]”. Okay Merriam-Webster did not bold and underline unselfish I did, but the definition is exact. In the U.S. we now have over 46,000,000[2] uninsured. It sounds to me like many Americans hold to the notion “In God We Trust” because there is no one in Washington D.C. to trust. They also have to trust God to keep them healthy, because only heaven can help them if they get sick in the U.S. with no insurance or little funds in savings for illnesses. Even as healthcare reform is discussed in the nation’s capitol, politicians are taking the opportunity to attach their earmarks and pork as usual. No wonder the U.S. is the most obese nation in the world[3], it cannot even pass healthcare reform without a big serving of pork. As Americans we have gotten so selfish, that providing healthcare for the less fortunate is a hot button issue. We cannot even share healthcare without complaints.

I find it is people with insurance that are so upset, but I hear little from the ones that would benefit most from healthcare reform. Why have the insured people decided to be so loud now? Because they have not had to worry about a sick child or spouse getting healthcare if they need it, but now they are thinking about it. Now their healthcare is only in discussion of possibly changing they start screaming. Why hasn’t anyone screamed out about the injustice of denying healthcare coverage for the less fortunate? Welcome to the nightmare all the uninsured are living! These uninsured are worried about their family’s healthcare too. It is not until their own coverage is challenged that Americans cry foul. I chose the term “less fortunate” because another objection I hear often is they do not want their tax money going to help those that sit back and wait for the government to help them. The disappointing news there is, “those people” are already getting that tax money in the form of welfare, food stamps and health coverage via Medicaid. Or better yet, they do not pay their hospital bills and that cost is passed on to the actual paying patients. Yes, there are some that are abusing the system, but are we okay with punishing the innocent to make this point as we use the extreme as if it is the norm? The majority of uninsured today are made up of the working poor. Nearly 1.3 million full-time workers lost their health insurance in 2006[4]. Over 8 in 10 uninsured people come from working families – almost 70 percent from families with one worker[5]. So the idea that the people to benefit from reform are free loaders waiting for a free ride is ABSURD!

I remember from Sunday School and my church training that Christ instructed us to care for all people, but especially the poor and those suffering from social injustice. That is why there are well over 100 passages in the Bible addressing this subject[6]. So I would think that Christians would be leading the pack for reform, but that does not seem to be the case. Over $83 million was spent by both sides of Prop 8 ballot initiative trying to prevent the right for gays to marry. I think it would be safe to say the majority of the donors giving $39.9 million supporting Prop 8 (which bans gay marriage) were doing so based on their own personal and religious beliefs. It is America and they have the right to do that, but even if they do not feel gays being denied the right to marry is a social injustice, how can anyone say that making healthcare more accessible and affordable is not a social injustice? “Healthcare access is a right, not a privilege”[7] is what all Americans should be screaming, especially Christian organizations. I guess the almost $40 million spent keeping California’s gays from getting married is much more important than providing healthcare for the less fortunate!

I would say it is true that no one is denied healthcare in an emergency, but at what cost. One trip to the emergency room for kidney stones totaled over $3,200 and I was never admitted to the hospital and only treated in the emergency room. Luckily I had insurance at the time and only had to pay $640.00 out of my pocket. When I had the same problem in Colombia, South America; I had the same treatment and the total cost (with no insurance) was $275.00. If prices were more affordable for healthcare, insuring Americans would not be a problem. Preventative treatment and early diagnosis of health issues could also save Americans a lot of money. But with the big money made by pharmaceutical companies, healthcare organizations and insurance companies, I do not see any real reform coming. The lobbyists representing those groups are so deep in the politicians pockets that what is best for Americans is surpassed for the lobbyist with the most money. Surprise, once again the topic of corruption in politics needs to be mentioned. Since a lot of our congressmen and senators were lawyers before politicians, we will never see tort reform; so the lawyers can continue to sue, sue, sue and get rich, rich, rich and healthcare cost rise, rise, and rise!

Doctors are paid well and nurses should make so much more for what they do. This is not where the cost of healthcare lies, it is in their bosses, insurances companies, lobbyist and politician’s pockets from our “for profit” healthcare system where money is more important than patients. I even see e-mails of doctors noticing gold teeth, cellphones and ringtones; begrudging treating those patients because they may have some kind of government assistance. I would LOVE too see more e-mails of doctors volunteering to treat the poor that have no insurance more so than reporting who they judge while giving medical assistance. If the doctors saw fit to do more volunteering, the government would not need to be as involved as much. It would also be good to see the wealthy doing more to help people that are not as fortunate as they are. Many Americans prefer to drive huge gas hog 4×4 trucks that never go off-road and Hummers in bright-ass colors to show off how much credit have instead of spending any time helping the ones less fortunate. No matter my station in life, I know there were and are people I could have done more for unselfishly! Can you think of even a friend that could use help from you?

Next time healthcare is a topic among friends, ask for a slice of bacon; because by the end of healthcare reform all Americans will have is PORK! The insurance, pharmaceutical and health organization companies will be even richer, our taxes will be higher and there will be no benefit seen for the poor, under insured and uninsurable! People should be paid for treating the sick, but not profit from it. But the best thing about America’s healthcare system – it will STILL be the only country in the world that allows people PROFIT form treating the sick! But keep in mind, it is still possible to demonstrate that as individuals we can be even more greedy as well!

Please notice and check my facts, I am not making up false information like some of the media is doing to scare people.

[1] “altruism.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Merriam-Webster Online. 25 August 2009.
<http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/altruism>

[2] “Facts on the Cost of Health Insurance Coverage.” The National Coalition on Health Care. August 25, 2009. http://www.nchc.org/facts/coverage.shtml
[3] “Health Statistics > Obesity (most recent) by country”. NationMaster.com. August 25, 2009 http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_obe-health-obesity

[4] DeNavas-Walt, C.B. Proctor, and J. Smith. “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007”. U.S. Census Bureau., August 2008.

[5] The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Employee Health Benefits: 2008 Annual Survey. September 2008. http://www.kff.org/insurance/7672/index.cfm
[6] “Bible verses: Caring for the poor, Christian service: serving others.” Southern Nazarene University. August 25, 2009. http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/poor.htm
[7] Thomas J Papadimos. “Healthcare access as a right, not a privilege: a construct of Western thought.” Philosophy, Ethics, Humanities in Medicine. March 8, 2007. August 25, 2009. http://www.peh-med.com/content/2/1/2

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life Continues Even When We Stand Still!!

One thing about me is I know I am crazy or simply insane and embracing this helps me cope. lol  But a few years ago I met someone and fell in love.   We had great times together.  What he and I had is what I wanted the rest of my life. I still say is instead of was because I still have moments that I feel it is possible.  I still have dreams this love is or could be returned to me and be real as I imagine.  I know this person deep in his heart loves me the same but is just scared.  We still have occasional interactions via the internet and as much fun as it is to visit and catch up…. I am left with the feeling of wanting to shake him because it is like a game to him – he has me as a loving a devoted friend and I have the emptiness of knowing I am incomplete without him.  This person has friends but keeps me in his life (but at a distance) because he knows he will have no better friend than me, but I still need more than just the friendship… I need his love.  I do not know why he cannot even give it a try?  I do not know why I still want to try?  But as life moves on, I am remaining standing still – hoping and having faith he will one day know I am the one he should be with!

Being crazy also helps me cope because I know all the things about moving on, restarting my life, having new love: but I chose to have faith in him.  This person does love me, I have no question, but it is still an incomplete love.  This love is evident because he continues to survive the drama I am for his life.  He does not stand still, but seems to move only in a circle to end up back in the same situations and his life does not break the pattern but he continues to move.  I believe in this person more than anyone one outside my family.  I know what is good about him.  People like him, but I do not know that anyone has ever seen him for all he is and can be.  Some people really do not like him and I think that comes from them sympathizing with my pain.  They do not like him because they only see that he continues to reject the kind of gift that is so rare in life.  Or maybe they just do not like him because he is a shithead!! lol  But shithead or not… I love him and stand still as life moves on!

I sometimes have to try to be creative in expressing my feelings.  But it hard to move past a failed relationship when it NEVER was a relationship.  But as I stand still and he moves in his circles… maybe he will pass me on one of his loops and things will be different… not just for me, but also for him.  We make each other better!

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Still Have Faith In President Obama!

I left the U.S. to not only find a better climate for my Multiple Sclerosis but to find a country that accepted me as I am – Sick, Poor, Gay and Misunderstood!  It is sad to me I had to search for this acceptance outside of my own country, but I have found Colombia to a refreshingly progressive country despite how the world seems to continue to misjudge this great country!  As I read this speech from President Obama, I was inspired but still ask him and the U.S. political system to keep these words in mind!  I have been constantly screwed by Cigna, my private long-term disability insurer, and I as President Obama asks, try not to demonize Cigna, but it  is very hard.  I will blog more on Cigna another time, but enjoy the hopeful words of President Obama!

“Yes, there are crimes of conscience that call us to action.  Yes, there are causes that move our hearts and offenses that stir our souls.  But progress doesn’t come when we demonize opponents.  It’s not born in righteous spite.  Progress comes when we open our hearts, when we extend our hands, when we recognize our common humanity.  Progress comes when we look into the eyes of another and see the face of God.  That we might do so — that we will do so all the time, not just some of the time — is my fervent prayer for our nation and the world.”

People have said he is great with words but I also feel he is sincere and I am saddened by how the Republicans will not do what is best for Americans and only look out for party interest

Here is the complete speech:

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
February 04, 2010

Remarks by the President at the National Prayer Breakfast
Washington Hilton
Washington, D.C.

9:08 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Please be seated.

Thank you so much.  Heads of state, Cabinet members, my outstanding Vice President, members of Congress, religious leaders, distinguished guests, Admiral Mullen — it’s good to see all of you.  Let me begin by acknowledging the co-chairs of this breakfast, Senators Isakson and Klobuchar, who embody the sense of fellowship at the heart of this gathering.  They’re two of my favorite senators.  Let me also acknowledge the director of my faith-based office, Joshua DuBois, who is here.  Where’s Joshua?  He’s out there somewhere.  He’s doing great work.  (Applause.)

I want to commend Secretary Hillary Clinton on her outstanding remarks, and her outstanding leadership at the State Department.  She’s doing good every day.  (Applause.) I’m especially pleased to see my dear friend, Prime Minister Zapatero, and I want him to relay America’s greetings to the people of Spain.  And Johnny, you are right, I’m deeply blessed, and I thank God every day for being married to Michelle Obama.  (Applause.)

I’m privileged to join you once again, as my predecessors have for over half a century.  Like them, I come here to speak about the ways my faith informs who I am — as a President, and as a person.  But I’m also here for the same reason that all of you are, for we all share a recognition — one as old as time — that a willingness to believe, an openness to grace, a commitment to prayer can bring sustenance to our lives.

There is, of course, a need for prayer even in times of joy and peace and prosperity.  Perhaps especially in such times prayer is needed — to guard against pride and to guard against complacency.  But rightly or wrongly, most of us are inclined to seek out the divine not in the moment when the Lord makes His face shine upon us, but in moments when God’s grace can seem farthest away.

Last month, God’s grace, God’s mercy, seemed far away from our neighbors in Haiti.  And yet I believe that grace was not absent in the midst of tragedy.  It was heard in prayers and hymns that broke the silence of an earthquake’s wake.  It was witnessed among parishioners of churches that stood no more, a roadside congregation, holding bibles in their laps.  It was felt in the presence of relief workers and medics; translators; servicemen and women, bringing water and food and aid to the injured.

One such translator was an American of Haitian descent, representative of the extraordinary work that our men and women in uniform do all around the world — Navy Corpsman Christian [sic] Brossard.  And lying on a gurney aboard the USNS Comfort, a woman asked Christopher:  “Where do you come from?  What country?  After my operation,” she said, “I will pray for that country.”  And in Creole, Corpsman Brossard responded, “Etazini.”  The United States of America.

God’s grace, and the compassion and decency of the American people is expressed through the men and women like Corpsman Brossard.  It’s expressed through the efforts of our Armed Forces, through the efforts of our entire government, through similar efforts from Spain and other countries around the world.  It’s also, as Secretary Clinton said, expressed through multiple faith-based efforts.  By evangelicals at World Relief.  By the American Jewish World Service.  By Hindu temples, and mainline Protestants, Catholic Relief Services, African American churches, the United Sikhs.  By Americans of every faith, and no faith, uniting around a common purpose, a higher purpose.

It’s inspiring.  This is what we do, as Americans, in times of trouble.  We unite, recognizing that such crises call on all of us to act, recognizing that there but for the grace of God go I, recognizing that life’s most sacred responsibility — one affirmed, as Hillary said, by all of the world’s great religions — is to sacrifice something of ourselves for a person in need.

Sadly, though, that spirit is too often absent when tackling the long-term, but no less profound issues facing our country and the world.  Too often, that spirit is missing without the spectacular tragedy, the 9/11 or the Katrina, the earthquake or the tsunami, that can shake us out of complacency.  We become numb to the day-to-day crises, the slow-moving tragedies of children without food and men without shelter and families without health care.  We become absorbed with our abstract arguments, our ideological disputes, our contests for power.  And in this Tower of Babel, we lose the sound of God’s voice.

Now, for those of us here in Washington, let’s acknowledge that democracy has always been messy.  Let’s not be overly nostalgic.  (Laughter.)  Divisions are hardly new in this country.  Arguments about the proper role of government, the relationship between liberty and equality, our obligations to our fellow citizens — these things have been with us since our founding.  And I’m profoundly mindful that a loyal opposition, a vigorous back and forth, a skepticism of power, all of that is what makes our democracy work.

And we’ve seen actually some improvement in some circumstances.  We haven’t seen any canings on the floor of the Senate any time recently.  (Laughter.)  So we shouldn’t over-romanticize the past.  But there is a sense that something is different now; that something is broken; that those of us in Washington are not serving the people as well as we should.  At times, it seems like we’re unable to listen to one another; to have at once a serious and civil debate.  And this erosion of civility in the public square sows division and distrust among our citizens.  It poisons the well of public opinion.  It leaves each side little room to negotiate with the other.  It makes politics an all-or-nothing sport, where one side is either always right or always wrong when, in reality, neither side has a monopoly on truth.  And then we lose sight of the children without food and the men without shelter and the families without health care.

Empowered by faith, consistently, prayerfully, we need to find our way back to civility.  That begins with stepping out of our comfort zones in an effort to bridge divisions.  We see that in many conservative pastors who are helping lead the way to fix our broken immigration system.  It’s not what would be expected from them, and yet they recognize, in those immigrant families, the face of God.  We see that in the evangelical leaders who are rallying their congregations to protect our planet.  We see it in the increasing recognition among progressives that government can’t solve all of our problems, and that talking about values like responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage are integral to any anti-poverty agenda.  Stretching out of our dogmas, our prescribed roles along the political spectrum, that can help us regain a sense of civility.

Civility also requires relearning how to disagree without being disagreeable; understanding, as President [Kennedy] said, that “civility is not a sign of weakness.” Now, I am the first to confess I am not always right.  Michelle will testify to that.  (Laughter.)  But surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith, or, for that matter, my citizenship.  (Laughter and applause.)

Challenging each other’s ideas can renew our democracy.  But when we challenge each other’s motives, it becomes harder to see what we hold in common.  We forget that we share at some deep level the same dreams — even when we don’t share the same plans on how to fulfill them.

We may disagree about the best way to reform our health care system, but surely we can agree that no one ought to go broke when they get sick in the richest nation on Earth.  We can take different approaches to ending inequality, but surely we can agree on the need to lift our children out of ignorance; to lift our neighbors from poverty.  We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are — whether it’s here in the United States or, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda.

Surely we can agree to find common ground when possible, parting ways when necessary.  But in doing so, let us be guided by our faith, and by prayer.  For while prayer can buck us up when we are down, keep us calm in a storm; while prayer can stiffen our spines to surmount an obstacle — and I assure you I’m praying a lot these days — (laughter) — prayer can also do something else.  It can touch our hearts with humility.  It can fill us with a spirit of brotherhood.  It can remind us that each of us are children of a awesome and loving God.

Through faith, but not through faith alone, we can unite people to serve the common good.  And that’s why my Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has been working so hard since I announced it here last year.  We’ve slashed red tape and built effective partnerships on a range of uses, from promoting fatherhood here at home to spearheading interfaith cooperation abroad.  And through that office we’ve turned the faith-based initiative around to find common ground among people of all beliefs, allowing them to make an impact in a way that’s civil and respectful of difference and focused on what matters most.

It is this spirit of civility that we are called to take up when we leave here today.  That’s what I’m praying for.  I know in difficult times like these — when people are frustrated, when pundits start shouting and politicians start calling each other names — it can seem like a return to civility is not possible, like the very idea is a relic of some bygone era.  The word itself seems quaint — civility.

But let us remember those who came before; those who believed in the brotherhood of man even when such a faith was tested.  Remember Dr. Martin Luther King.  Not long after an explosion ripped through his front porch, his wife and infant daughter inside, he rose to that pulpit in Montgomery and said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

In the eyes of those who denied his humanity, he saw the face of God.

Remember Abraham Lincoln.  On the eve of the Civil War, with states seceding and forces gathering, with a nation divided half slave and half free, he rose to deliver his first Inaugural and said, “We are not enemies, but friends… Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”

Even in the eyes of confederate soldiers, he saw the face of God.

Remember William Wilberforce, whose Christian faith led him to seek slavery’s abolition in Britain; he was vilified, derided, attacked; but he called for “lessening prejudices [and] conciliating good-will, and thereby making way for the less obstructed progress of truth.”

In the eyes of those who sought to silence a nation’s conscience, he saw the face of God.

Yes, there are crimes of conscience that call us to action.  Yes, there are causes that move our hearts and offenses that stir our souls.  But progress doesn’t come when we demonize opponents.  It’s not born in righteous spite.  Progress comes when we open our hearts, when we extend our hands, when we recognize our common humanity.  Progress comes when we look into the eyes of another and see the face of God.  That we might do so — that we will do so all the time, not just some of the time — is my fervent prayer for our nation and the world.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Categories: Colombia, Life | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Where I Spend My Time!!

My friend Carlos, before moving to Australia, introduced me to Zoltan Bokor.  Zoltan owns Bokor’s Sandwich & Coffee Cafe at Calle 47 #14-23 in Bogotá, Colombia with his partner Diana Rodriguez.  This is a great little coffee shop because it offers something few businesses here in Bogotá offer – customer service!  It is only 2 blocks from my apartment so even on days my MS is active, I can can still make it there for a coffee.  The original goal of the visits was to just get out of the apartment a few  minutes of the day, but now Zoltan and I have become really good friends.  He is originally from Hungary but lived in England for a while.  He and I enjoy that we can speak in English and understand each other in the new Spanish-speaking culture we find ourselves living.  His partner does speak English, but she is still an “insider” in Bogotá.  Zoltan and I share the experience of adjusting to this new culture which is a unique bond.  So add a great new friends Zoltan and Diana with coffee (and some times beers) and sandwiches, it is a welcomed oasis for me.  I am kind of like Norm from the tv show “Cheers” because everyone knows my name there.  The regulars and I sometimes exchange quick English/Spanish lessons.  The coffee, sandwiches and beers are much less expensive than any coffee shop in the U.S. also adds to the charm for my poor ass!  It is rare in my experience to find a place here in Bogotá like Bokor’s Sandwich & Coffee Cafe.   Borkor’s does not rest on having good food, but stresses customer service and a friendly atmosphere.  It is typical here in Bogotá to have one, maybe two of the experiences but to have all three and to be owned by someone who makes friends with his customers and tries to get to know them is very rare.

Zaltan Bokor & Diana Rodriguez at the Sandwich Shop

The café is close to the Universidad Católica de Bogotá (the Catholic University of Bogotá) and has a steady flow of students, professors, school administrators as well as folks living in the neighborhood.  But like any place that severs beers, Bokor’s has become quite busy “After Class”!!  Some students skip the beers and just have a coffee and/or sandwich visiting with other students about their day.  Some discussion even appears deep and intellectual as if they are solving the issues of the world.  In the back of the café are a few computers for public use that for a small fee are used to surf the internet and WiFi is also available for the “real” American coffee shop experience so that I can pretend to be writing the next bestseller!!  lol.

For 2,200 Pesos ($1.10) Gets Anyone the Small Sandwich Combo

 

Even With Good Food, Good Friends, Mixed With Good Times.... I Have Been Able To Lose 25 Pounds (13kgs) In 2 Months

Categories: Colombia, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Bogota Bus Strike Ends!!

Earlier today the announcement was made that the Bogotá bus strike would end and services would resume on Friday morning.  The strike lasted for 4 days bringing a lot of the city to a standstill.  Schools, universities and even many businesses had to close because students and employees were unable to make their typical commute without the buses.  It will take a while for many to recoup the losses of this four-day strike. As Senor Lopez, the bus union leader, apologized for the effects, I could tell it was an empty apology from someone who in the end got very little using the strike as a negotiating tool.  I wish there was a way to organize commuters to strike and not use the busses to let them feel the effects of their actions.  But as the strike did prove, the buses are a necessary evil in this town for now.  I look forward to the mayor’s new transportation system to take effect reducing the buses on Bogotá’s streets.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bus Stike Continues!

Okay … update on the bus strike.  The taxis’ strike to support the striking bus drivers today lasted only like 30 minutes.  So today, again, schools were closed and many had difficulties getting to work.  My understanding of the issue is that the small bus drivers do not want the new “day pass”.  It would be a pass that would allow someone to ride Transmilenio or the small buses for the day with one purchase and I call it a “day pass” because I do not know the real name!  This day pass would help so many that struggle to pay seperate fares every time they need to change buses while commuting to work, school or even somewhere just for fun.  It would help students, the working poor and really – anyone that does not own a car in Bogotá.  It makes sense… so the ones that could also benefit from this change – the bus drivers – instead of negotiating and using skills, words and knowledge, the bus drivers result to being bullies and forcing their wishes through the brut force of a strike that hurts ALL of Bogota.  I have little respect for strikers.

Categories: Colombia | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Bus Strike in Bogota!!

There are two bus systems here in Bogota – Transmilenio, the City buses that run only in designated lanes (similar to a subway line but bus lanes) and the other I simply call the small buses (knowing the derogatory connotation if I called them short buses for my U.S. readers lol) that ride various routes on just about all Bogota city streets.  Today, the “small” buses went on strike and caused many complications as they are a vital part of the daily commute for many.  Well it is expected that tomorrow, the yellow taxis (the largest majority of taxis in the city) plan to join in support.   This has made many stressful and angry.  I still do not see that the small bus drivers are gaining sympathy as much as making citizens angry.  Tomorrow with the taxis showing support for the bus drivers… I want to see what the feelings of the people will be.  For me, it only makes me appreciate that most all I need is a short walk!  lol

Categories: Colombia | Tags: , | Leave a comment

I Do Not Understand How People Can Be So Damn RUDE!!!

My Multiple Sclerosis has given me hell as of late and that combined with a cold has me on my cane and in a very bad mood.  I had to go to Exito ( Colombia’s version of WalMart) to get a few things after being stuck in the apartment a couple of days.  Walking the streets of Bogotá, people are not polite and will not vary their course except for their own desire.  There are no exceptions – not even when I am on a cane…. they do not care!  Two girls between 18 and 21 years old were walking to the handicap access for wheelchairs on the sidewalk and did they care I was on a cane and needed to use the access? Hell no!  They stood blocking my way and I just raised my cane and said “Really”?  I refused to move for them and eventually they step aside to let me pass.  Okay, maybe this was just kids being the little bitches they can sometimes be.  But then, inside Exito a woman with a buggy hit my cane as she passed, no excuse me (con permiso) or anything!  Maybe it is just women in general?  Then a man hits me mid chest with his shoulder as HE passes knocking me into the sugar display and my cane even tripped him just a little as he pushed on by and he gave ME the “f*ck you” look??  I have not had to use my cane while in a city this large before, so I do not WANT to say it is Colombians or even Bogotans, but what else would explain it?  I am a Gringo, which is old code for Green Go Home referring to the green uniforms the U.S. military wears and the desire for the U.S. military to  go, so is that it?  Is my being an unwanted American the reason that even on a cane people are so rude here or is it everyone?  Colombians in general are a great, friendly and even welcoming people…. but on the sidewalks… there is no evidence of this!  I have talked about this with others even before the incidents on my cane and they have all said it is part of the Bogotá cultural experience and has nothing to do with my being American.  But how can people who are so friendly otherwise accept this behavior?

Before any of this, an incident two days earlier may have heightened my aware of this behavior.  I ventured out (on my cane) to my neighborhood coffee shop, just to get out of the apartment.  Zaltan,the owner of the coffee shop, and I were visiting on the sidewalk in front of his coffee shop.  From behind, I was knocked off-balance by someone passing by and when we looked to see who it was, it was an OLD man.  I would say he was over 90 and walking very slowly on his cane.  I guess he was so determined not to change his path to walk around me that he could not even say con permiso (excuse me) for me to move, but it was just acceptable to push me out-of-the-way.  If the sidewalk was crowded, I would have been more understanding but it was not.  His being on a cane I thought he should understand my difficulty walking or standing with a cane.  I guess it is only an American cultural thing to say excuse me when something like this happens.  I respect the elderly and would have gladly stepped to one side to allow him to pass, but my eyes looking forward are bad enough that the eyes in the back of my head do not work like they once did and did not allow me to see him coming from behind me.  I do not know a lot of Spanish, but the first things I did learn were: con permiso (excuse me), por favor (please) and gracias (thank you)!  Spanish for move is simply mover, so even if he did not want to be polite and ask, I would have understood if he had barked for me to move for him and I would have.

I do not know why this is bothering me so much.  I love everything about being in Bogotá but this.  It is the burr under my saddle now.  It has always bothered me, but this past week, it has escalated to ANGERING me!  Maybe because this is the only flaw I have found with life in Bogota that in my mind I have to exaggerate to the point of making it a problem so I can say Bogotá is NOT as perfect as I once thought!  It is the one thing that is making me unhappy here and I see no way it is anything I can change or effect change.  If the effects continue to make me so emotional and angry, I will consider moving to another city to give it a try there.  Nothing like this happened in Medellin!

Categories: Colombia, Life, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.