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"Politicians are entitled to their own privacy," Barney Frank famously said, "but they are not entitled to their own hypocrisy."

For years, we have listened to Republicans lecture us on issues of morality, only to find them caught up in zipper problems or paying for abortions for their mistresses or whatever. Too often, their moral stance has been trumped by a wide stance, or whatever.

Now, the House Democratic leadership has painted itself into a corner on a women's issue, and it's time to call them out and get them to change course before it gets any worse.

Poll

Should House Democrats waive the "no-proxy" rule in this one instance and allow Rep Duckworth to take part in the leadership meetings by Skype or other means?

94%86 votes
5%5 votes

| 91 votes | Vote | Results

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Right after the Newtown massacre, my own primary care physician explained his frustration to me during my yearly physical.

A highly respected medical professional and Russian emigre, he had seen our mental health system's failures become more and more apparent over the years.

"You wonder why you have mentally ill persons committing these crimes, but you refuse to even consider how it happened," he said.

"First you closed all the asylums," he said. "And you ruled that mentally ill people cannot be institutionalized against their will unless they pose an immediate danger to themselves or to others. And you can't force them to have treatment or to take their medication."

"And then you open up these centers in the community," he added, "but later, you cut the funding. You put these people out in the street."

"And here in Washington, even if you have insurance, you can't find a psychiatrist. They don't take insurance. They only want people who can pay. They want rich people from Potomac who feel blue and want someone to talk to. The people who really need help, many of them can't hold a job or don't have a lot of money."

"But they have easy access to guns."

"It is easier," he said, "to have access to guns than it is to have access to mental health care.
And you wonder why you have mentally ill people running out in the streets with guns, and you wonder why you have these tragedies."

The back story to this conversation was not only the Newtown tragedy, but my efforts - as an elected official - to find a mental health professional for a good friend who is also a constituent of mine and battling depression. He had excellent medical coverage, but we could not find a psychiatrist who would take his insurance and do anything other than prescribe pills. Not one would see him without him having to pay big bucks, which he doesn't have. And even if he had the big bucks, the best shrinks are overbooked and can't take on any more patients.

A month after this discussion, my constituent was hospitalized after the a life-threatening episode. Five days after that, the attending psychiatrist returned him to the care of his PCP. They washed their hands of the matter. Everything my doctor had told me the previous month had come true.

I fully understand that the issue of gun control is a deeply emotional one to the American people, but I am at my wit's end about the mental health crisis being shoved to the back burner over the stalemated gun control issue.

Conservative groups, including the NRA, have supported additional funding for prisons so that people who commit crimes with guns be given mandatory sentences. They have also supported so-called trigger lock legislation, calling for mandatory jail sentences for convicted felons who are caught with guns. They need to be pressured to do the same for mental health funding.

It is time for people on both sides of the gun control debate to actually join together to call for a rebuilding of our nation's mental health system. It won't be easy, and it won't be quick, and the ACA is only a small step and certainly not the answer.


You can mandate care until the cows come home, but if the doctors aren't available and the beds aren't available, it's an empty gesture. Creigh Deeds' son was supposed to have a bed, but one wasn't available. States and localities must fund these programs, and, if they need federal help, so be it.

These tragedies are happening, it seems, every week. A mentally ill person with a gun or knife or a car or whatever commits a horrific crime. Gun control advocates blame the NRA. The NRA fights back, especially if the person uses a knife, or a car, and mockingly says we should have knife control or car control. And nothing happens. Lather. Rise. Repeat.

Dear God, isn't it time we as Americans stop pointing fingers at each other and work together to seek out the possible and find some workable solutions to this crisis?

Discuss

Score another one for the family values crowd.

It seems Rep Trey Radel (R-FL) was charged this afternoon in DC Superior Court documents with possession of cocaine. He will appear in Court tomorrow. He was actually arrested October 29th. He's a former radio talk show host, so maybe that's his excuse.

Or maybe he's just a Ford Republican. Not Jerry, who was a clean and decent man. But Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who is an unapologetic Conservative and admittedly might do crack cocaine when in a drunken stupor.

Maybe the DC cable news crowd might stake out this guy Radel's residence. Not sure where it is, but I have a hunch he lives in a van down by the river.

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The news came out today that former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has been hospitalized in South Carolina for what was described as a gastrointestinal disorder and dehydration.

He had to cancel a trip to an Iowa family values event.

Snarky remarks coming in 3 - 2 - 1.....

Discuss

Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 07:09 PM PDT

I started on Medicare today....

by Homer J

...my 65th birthday is later this month, so I became firmly entrenched as a proud member of the 47% at midnight, when the Medicare card I received a couple months ago became effective.

    You bet it's an entitlement, folks. I bought it and paid for it during 40 years on the workforce. I paid taxes for it every two weeks with every paycheck. So, yeah, I'm entitled to it, just like I'm entitled to the money I deposited in my checking account, or the money in my 401k.

     My Medicare card is a ticket to fewer financial and healthcare worries, and it's also a ticket to ride for Democratic candidates next year. More after the jump....

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Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:43 PM PDT

Easter at Wal-Mart in NoVa

by Homer J

It's 615am on Easter Morning, and I'm wide awake, bright-eyed and bushy tailed and need to pick up some items for the house and the fridge.

It's dark outside, and I put on some sweats and head out into darkness. People are parking by the Reflecting Pool, in advance of Easter Sunrise services. I head across the bridge into northern Virginia.

Most stores are closed, and I head past darkened parking lots heading south.

Eventually, I find an open store, and it's a Wal-Mart. (Forgive me Lord, I knew not what I did)

I drive into the parking lot and head into the store, which is open 24/7.

The first thing I see is a line at the only open check-out. At least six people are waiting.

I buy the items I need and head to the check-out, expecting the worst.

It turns out there's only two people ahead of me. I get in line.

A woman gets in line after me, and the cashier tells her she will be the last in line. She says she absolutely must go home. I mention to her than no other register is open.

She shouts for a manager, and one comes over.

The woman says she needs to be relieved. Straining, I overhear the conversation.
She says she has been working without a break since 10pm, and it's now 7am and she has promised her family she will be home in time to get ready for Easter services. There is a sense of urgency all over her face. The manager asks her to hang on a few minutes while she does one or two quick tasks, and then she will personally take over the register.

A moment later, the cashier finishes putting my items in the dark gray plastic bags, wishes me a Happy Easter, and the manager takes over. The cashier hurries to complete the hand-off so she can be on her way.

For millions of Americans, especially those barely hanging on from paycheck to paycheck, Easter is just another day. Another day of low pay, long hours, and stress.

I drive back into town, past the Lincoln Memorial, and it is no longer dark. The sound system sends forth the sounds of a choir singing of the good news of the resurrection and the hope and joy that Easter represents to my dear and beloved Christian friends.

I think of that woman who waited on me at that Wal-Mart and hope that she was able to make it home in time and will be able to enjoy this holiday with her family.

I should mention that - as I was putting the bags into my cart - I wished her a happy and blessed Easter and she smiled and looked down modestly, then softly said thank you.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Discuss

Yesterday, as the temperatures soared into the 60's here in the Nation's Capitol, we took to the open road - life partner, dog, and I. As we headed north along I-270 to the Maryland countryside, we noticed the electronic road signs noting the change to Daylight Savings Time reminding everyone to check the batteries in their smoke alarms.

This morning, I read a lovely diary by a Kossack named Laurustina about finding a couple of cans of generic government beef and pork on a top shelf in a kitchen cupboard,  a reminder of a time when she and her two sons needed help from a food bank.

Several Kossacks questioned her for demeaning the generic government food, and I took a middle ground, praising her for her good heart and wondering why she held on to the cans if she didn't need them and others were hungry.

How, on earth, does this all tie together????

Well, it's spring cleaning time, and that's time to clean out the kitchen pantry and kitchen shelves, too.

I live a few blocks from the White House, and I see hungry people and homeless people every day. I'm active in helping a homeless outreach program at a local church that provides counseling, job placement, housing assistance, and hot meals. I am not a member of that church, but I rejoiced with them when we recently we able to add a Saturday "dinner at breakfast" meal to our already thrice-weekly feeding program. We call it dinner at breakfast because it's a well-rounded meal and not just eggs and stuff.
"Charlie's Place," the outreach program, was able to add the extra day because we held a series of house parties and even a blessing of the animals to raise funds. One thing I have learned is that little acts of kindness can make a big difference in the lives of people who need and appreciate a little help.

When you do your spring cleaning, please go through your pantry and your kitchen shelves. Check the canned and bottled foods for their expiration date. Anything that's still good and has been there six months or more should be a candidate for the local food bank. If you haven't used it by now, chances are you don't really want it or need it. Someone else is hungry, and there's a hungry family out there that would appreciate that can that's been gathering dust for months.

Every spring and fall, when we check our smoke alarm batteries, we should also remember to check for unused or unneeded food and take it to the food bank. A hungry family will be grateful, and your reward will be a clear conscience and the warm feeling that comes from helping others.

Thanks.

Discuss

Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 01:06 PM PST

Thou Shalt Not Steal

by Homer J

Much has been made of the latest Republican scheme to change the winner-take-all electoral college rules in selected blue states while leaving it unchanged in red states.

Folks rightly point out that those plans that determine votes by congressional district put voters in artificial and gerrymandered regions, designed to increase the power of some voters while decreasing the power of others.

Folks rightly point out that the CD plans place blacks in legislative ghettos, where their votes are clearly diminished in power from the current levels.

Folks rightly point out that the proportional plans would give a state like Pennsylvania less clout in determining a President than Idaho....because Idaho has four electoral votes, while a closely divided PA would give its winner a plurality of perhaps three.

The plans are transparently evil schemes to rig the system so that a minority of voters can prevail for the Republicans. But to defeat them requires getting the attention of the American people and explaining a complicated issue in the clearest and most morally unambiguous matter.....

I suggest we go back to the 1912 GOP convention battle between incumbent William Howard Taft and challenger and former President Theodore Roosevelt. In the battle over credentials, TR's forces used a line that was echoed 40 years later at another GOP convention by Eisenhower forces in another credentials battle against another Taft, Senator Robert Taft. The battle cry was as clear and powerful as can be....

Thou Shalt Not Steal.

The Republicans are trying to steal elections. Pure and simple. They are putting in an arcane series of rules changes designed solely for their advantage, and are stealing the tradition of majority rule.

The best defense against these miscreants is to attack them for what they are. They claim to be God's Own Party, and yet they are violating the Eighth Commandment. They are stealing elections, and stealing the equality of voters.

Language has power, and whether you win or lose a debate often depends on the language you use to frame your argument and that of your opponent.

Every debate, every argument about these nefarious schemes should include the Eighth Commandment (and remind them they are commandments, not suggestions)...

THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.

Somebody say amen.

Discuss

Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 02:14 PM PST

I'm a cold, dead fingers kinda guy....

by Homer J

..who desperately believes there has to be a conversation and an attempt to get both sides talking and - above all - listening.

I live in Washington, DC, and do not have or want a gun.

But I own a property 2300 miles away, and have family members living there. It's an entirely different world....below the fold.

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...and we can do it again.

After Pearl Harbor, FDR called in the automakers and told them what had to be done. Within months, they were building tanks.

In late 1945, Truman called in other manufacturers. And within months, the RCA plant in Camden, New Jersey was making television sets.

If we're giving billions to the auto industry, isn't it time we do some planning there, as well??

More after the jump.

Poll

Should Detroit be retrofitted to also produce mass transit vehicles, and other factories also retrofitted for new uses as part of further stimulus efforts?

88%16 votes
0%0 votes
5%1 votes
5%1 votes

| 18 votes | Vote | Results

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I think the best appointment President Obama made to his cabinet may be General Eric Ken Shinseki. A highly successful general, who spoke truth to power, maintained his integrity, and paid for it with his job. And choosing him was a thumb in the eye of the previous administration! I'm wondering if there isn't someone available for Commerce Secretary with essentially the same credentials.
I'll tell you who I'm suggesting and why....after the jump

Poll

Should President Obama consider Paul O'Neill 4 Commerce?

51%51 votes
15%15 votes
25%25 votes
8%8 votes

| 99 votes | Vote | Results

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It goes back to something we were taught in poli sci class in college.

Something written by the political scientist V.O. Key about the tides of politics....and the tides of history.

2008 may well have been what V.O. Key called a critical election or a realigning election and if that's the case, then the electoral tide is sweeping the Republicans out to sea.

More after the jump.....

Poll

Was 2008 a realingment election?

66%99 votes
2%3 votes
28%42 votes
3%5 votes

| 149 votes | Vote | Results

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