Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Damage that Time has Done

 

This is a follow-up to a post I wrote last week on civility, Hey, I Got Your Civility Right Here, Champ!, where I outline that we are uncivil because it pays.

Over the last couple of months a really smart guy, James Rucker, put a web site together to bring the Forces of the Civil to bear on one, Glenn Beck.  The man got tired of the racist rants being put forth by Glenn Beck and did something about it.

ColorOfChange.Org asked web surfers to lend their names to a list after reading a call to arms about Glenn Beck.  Travel the link and lend your name too, if you like.

I like this guy.  He is a stand up guy who has gotten folks to see his point of view.  Better yet, he has the ability to lead people to do something to change their condition.  This is a man to reckon with.

The result is that a number of big ticket sponsors have left the Beck echo chamber and the main stream media has double clutched.  This is fairly old news.

However, as we the people, start to flex our vocal chords and change our spending habits, Time Magazine has done a complete cover package with Glenn Beck sticking his tongue out at the rest of us.

Hence, the title of this post  (and you thought it was about the conflict between my expanding waist line and my modified Atkins Diet (anything that moves is fair game for lunch…)).

Time has, in the name of The Almighty Dollar, undone what Mr. Rucker has set to do by giving Glenn Beck this forum.  This is the beginning of a rehab job for Beck.  Time is trying once again to make it okay for people to sponsor this “person”. 

Yes, the cover of Time, as they like to tell all of us who will listen, is for really important people or subjects.  This gives Beck credence where he should be reviled.  (I guess this is where I can say Time has had Hitler, not only on the cover a number of times, but as Man-of-the-Year 1938.)  Beck is controversial and confrontational for the same reasons as Jerry Springer and Nancy Grace, to make a buck.

Beck is a right wing demigod and is dangerous because he is creating the same environment that Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon created prior to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.  As you may recall, Rabin won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for trying to solve the knots that bind the Middle East from attaining any sort of peace.  Rabin sought real solutions to problems that still exist in the region.

The right-wing of Israeli politics created a similar environment where it was okay for a demented Orthodox law student to take matters into his own hands and kill Rabin after a rally in November 2005.  The eventual political beneficiaries of this act were Netanyahu and Sharon.  These are people who have stalemated the process over there for the last decade and a half.

Am I putting Beck and Time at the same level as the ultra-right-wing of Israeli politics?   In my opinion, yeah, they go there.  These people are creating a dangerous environment that saying it is ok to be racist and carry on like our country is being destroyed, and giving them a warped intellectual license to do something about it.  Seeing guns at forums where the president is speaking scares the daylights out of me.  These people are creating the American Taliban. 

The over-acted emotional soliloquies that Beck performs could eventually have the effect of creating the space for an American Yigal Amir, the right-wing nut job that killed Rabin.  Time, by it's irresponsible journalism, is providing gasoline for this arsonist.

But can any one person be held responsible for what we are seeing unfold before our eyes right now.  It will be like the accident scene that took Princess Diana.  A lot of idiots on cable will cluck their tongues saying how the paparazzi drove the Princess into the wall while the other parts of the media pay big bucks for the pictures.

I am not saying that I want Time to be censored by the government, I am saying I want Time to be censored by you, in the marketplace.  Just like James Rucker has stood up to a bully like Glenn Beck.

We are still at a point where we can do something about this.  We all see where the road is going.  If you want to do something about this here are some starters:

  • Find your voice.  When in conversation and somebody is making the goofy remark, nicely, and I mean nicely, challenge them on their facts.


  • Email Time:         Letters@Time.com.  Let these guys know what you are thinking.  When I send my email to them I’ll be posting a link to this article once it posts on the site, with a little note to say that Time is acting irresponsibly in its coverage.


  • Copy what you send to some of the sponsors of Time’s web site.  It is especially effective if you are an AT&T, or Sprint, or Comcast, or Liberty Mutual customer and let them know how you feel. 


  • Comment here with some other ideas.  I am not that smart, help get me a clue.  I'll incorporate the best ones with names and dates into the text of this article.

Imitation is the sincerest for of flattery, it’s time to do the James Rucker thing.

<<<<<<

Addendum:  I just got out from under a rock.  Katie Couric is now celebrating this person, giving him the same rehab job as Time has.  Please include a note to CBS News on their feedback page... http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/feedback/fb_news_form.shtml

>>>>>>

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hey, I got your Civility Right Here, Champ!

I try to participate in talk radio when I can. This morning I tried to call into the Smerconish Show when he brought up the topic of Civility. Why is the discourse so coarse? A number of people rang in with things like: the media did it, declining family values, technology makes it easier to see all of us in a raw state.

The point I was trying to get in, before he ran out of time was, being uncivilized pays - not only with cash, but in getting what you want.

How many of us had any clue before last week what a Joe Wilson was? He is getting free air time and a huge monetary boost from right-wing donations by being a jerk. Last count close to a million is going to him.

How long has Jerry Springer been on the air or in syndication with his act? He has paid for a lot of stuff by getting a segment of the population to watch his brand of “civility”. Springer is too easy of a choice for this.

We can look at the “reality” show phenomenon, where we are watching to see who loses it. We can point, cluck our tongues and the produces walk away with a wad from ad $$$. How many people watch American Idol for Simon? It isn’t enough that really talented people get their due, they need to be ripped afterwards. We are rewarding the ripping.

I remember Crossfire on CNN. Intellectual mud wrestling that became unwatchable after a while. This spawned (spawned is the right word here…) the network cable morass where uncivil behavior isn’t called out but celebrated. It pays with the ratings rolling in.

Part of uncivil behavior is allowing a falsehood to stand or stoking a fire that is self-generated. It was ok to demonize people like Richard Jewell. This was a guy who saved a lot of people’s lives during the Atlanta Olympics. He found a pipe bomb in a sack and did what he could to clear the area. He should have been celebrated as a hero.

When the cops started hitting dead-ends, they leaked his name. The media ran with it, and he ended up a poster boy for the incivility of the media. You can make a buck on that. And, after all we are a capitalist society.

Jewel died about 2 years ago. He spent the remainder of his (I believed directly shortened) life trying to clear his name and pick up the pieces. In a civilized world we are supposed to look out for one another. I wonder if Jewell would take the same actions again if he had a do-over.

For more uncivil behaviors – look at CNN Cash Cow Nancy Grace! If a show exists to make money and only to make money, there are no human ethics involved. Unbelievable as it may seem – she’s still there making money on other people’s misery and making people miserable. What would the Duke Lax families or the family of Melinda Duckett (who committed suicide after a session of Grace Civility) have to say about the rewarding of the uncivil? ( Should these folks get a cut for being part of the entertainment, or talent, for those evenings where Ms. Grace got the good ratings? ) She still gets cash and a nightly seat at the table. The victims of the uncivil attempt to move on with their lives.

Uncivility has its non-monetary trophies. How about when we go to a sporting event and work the ref? A lot of us do it. One of the masters of this is Pa. Governor Ed Rendell, he is a fixture at Penn Quaker games. He screams, but he gets the calls for his team. He gets what he wants by being uncivil.

Staying more in the political realm, what does a candidate do when they are down in the polls in the home stretch? That’s right – go negative! “Pull that other guy down, because I have to have that seat no matter what, or what I destroy in the process.” When was the last time a seat was vacated after some sort of election fraud?

The rewarding of bad behavior is only part of the problem. It starts the cycle where uncivility is the solution to any public problem.

What is the penalty for being uncivilized? There are a lot of people who see this stuff, but being too “civilized”, don’t want to challenge the boars who are inflicting the pain. They are afraid to be seen as somehow unseemly to stand up to these bullies. Guess what, the milquetoasts are as much a part of the problem as the bullies raining down the half truths.

There will be no penalty when no one speaks up.

I have been in and out of local politics for about 2 decades now. I have worked on a number of campaigns where a critical juncture is reached. We would have the opponent dead-to-rights on an issue (a state auditor’s general reports saying the town isn’t managed properly, or the white chief-of-staff of the incumbent surveilling the black challenger’s house (we think it was on state time)) and those involved wouldn’t go forward to stand up and speak in a load clear voice. Nothing negative, just report the facts in a civil dispassionate tone. They wouldn’t do it. Those were campaigns that would be lost.

When the town fathers where I live tried to ram through a museum, hotel, and conference center (the American Revolution Center or the ARC) inside Valley Forge National Park, people involved stood up to them. The residents had some outside help too - but it would not have arrived if there weren’t people in the town ready to call out the abuse of power. The forces-that-be had all the money in the world, the Governor, the local newspaper; printed flyers mailed first class to residents’ homes. The incumbents lost the subsequent election hands down, because they incumbents were acting like bullies and some people actually stood up to them. The ARC is being built in downtown Philly…

That fact is we are coarse because we reward it. Answer - Stop rewarding it. Glenn Back is feeling the heat because somebody is standing up to him.

I hope that President Obama calling people out on the incivilities will lessen the rewards for acting like a dope. Whether the Kanye comment was leaked or not we all need to just start calling this behavior for what it is…

Friday, September 11, 2009

Joe Wilson: Don't Censure - Take His Time

Joe "the Screamer" Wilson really stepped in it. He needs to do some sort of pennance for what he did to the president. And, quite honestly, the Shimkus guy should get the same treatment.

Censure isn't the right call here. It simply becomes the Red Badge of Courage for more of the people to act like idiots. "Hey, Wilson was the first to get the censure, what do I have to do to be next line line"? We are dealing with a pre-teenager mentality here.

I know, we've got teens. We've lived through it. Here are a couple alternate of suggestions.

Take his time away. Since every thing in Congress runs on a seniority system, why not penalize him 2 years plus one day of seniority. Since Wilson is a 4th term congressperson, that puts him in line behind all other 2nd, 3rd, and 4th term congresspeople for committee assignments and pecking order. It doesn't penalize his constituients by making him resign. We avoid the media circus that would ensue when Mark Sanford attempts to appoint an Argentine Reporter in his place.

How about "Slave Time"? No, this isn't a racial thing. It is a concept of disipline we used in our household when the kids were younger. Since we are dealing pre-teen behavior, let use solutions proper for the age frame.

Slave Time means that if Kid A (Joe) does something nasty to Kid B (Barack) then Joe has to do everything that Barack wants to do for a fixed time frame. When you have an older brother giving a beat down to a little sister, it is entertaining to see the older brother play nicely with his sister and her dolls for 20 minutes or so.

It would be neat to see Joe Wilson as the point person for healthcare for a while. He has to suck it up and play nice, or his time gets extended. I'd love to see him on Fox or MSNBC touting the president's ideas for at least a month or so. Who knows, he might convince a few of his collegues to go along with Barack. They can sit down for a few beers afterward.

I can see Shimkus playing dolls with the first children for about an hour.

Mumbled apologies or standing up in front of everybody for questionable dress downs, doesn't really do much for moving forward. It just gets people madder and more resentful.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Who will be the Killer D's

I saw the speech last night and some of the reactions to the proceeding then slept on it.

Did I see all the things I wanted to see?  No, but I have enough to go on.

I saw the President box out in the low post. 

For those who don’t follow basketball, boxing out is what a forward (the 4) or center (the 5) does under the basket to control the real estate of the lane.  Obama’ position is the 4 or power forward.  You battle the other team’s 4 or 5, jockeying for position as a shot goes up for a rebound or put-back.  You are also responsible for creating a lane for a teammate to drive for a layup.  You stick your butt out and take up as much space as possible.  It is grunt work.  Good boxing out is nasty.  It allows space for your teammates to work.  It is a skill that is not easily quantified.  You get little credit and many fouls when you do it right.  If you follow the game long enough, you realize why a guy like Reggie Evans was a fan favorite last year for the Sixers.  It is one of the most important jobs on the court.  No team can win without a guy who will give it up for the team.

Obama created the space for the Democrats to work.  He outlined a lot of stuff, but did not get specific in the semantics.  It is the same thing he has been doing throughout this process.  He opened up the lane once again for prima donna Congresspeople to drive the lane for the layup.

I saw the President throw some elbows.  Sharp, but not as many as I would have liked.  Going after the Republican Mythology of 2009, he called their religion for what it was, bogus. 

  • Death Panels – Bogus
  • Fed $ for Illegals - Bogus
  • Fed $ for Abortion - Bogus
  • Government Takeover – Bogus

He is leaving the opening for the GOP to become a coherent party.   He set a nice back pick when he said “you will be called out” for lying to the rest of us. 

I liked the how he jockeyed for position when he said that if you (the GOP) continue to play games you will be dismissed. 

I saw the Republicans trap themselves in their own trash talk.  The last thing you want to do if you don’t have juice is to trash talk a superior opponent.  The only thing it does is get you madder and madder.  It gives you the opportunity to dig a little deeper to stick it to the big mouth.   All summer the Republicans have been running their mouths like the poser who has no game.  They really stepped over the line (as if they haven’t been living there for the last six months) with Joe the Screamer.

I liked the pat on the rump to Senator McCain over his proposal from last year.  The most telling statement for me came afterwards when Senator McCain dissed President Obama saying he was wrong to call out the death panelists.  If McCain is going to continue to leave Obama hanging in the air with the offer of a fist bump from the President, I would say that McCain is just another poser.  I am looking for his quick dismissal.

I want to see player-coach Obama knock some Democratic heads in the huddle.  We’ll only know that by the resolve the Congressional D’s have coming back out on the floor.  They need to show some game face.  I still don’t know exactly what the play is as far as Public Option vs Co-op vs whatever they are going to call it.  I want to be able to call them the Killer D’s next week as they begin to execute the play. 

Am I as fired-up as I was hoping to be – no – but I am still hopeful.  I want to see them run up the score – I think they can still do that given the fact they are playing a team with a truly offensive offense and an undefendable defense.

When does the dance team show up?  Wait – Keith O with cheerleaders’ tights and pom-poms is a scary thought.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Want You to be a Defender in the War On Healthcare

If you have not commented or posted before – I NEED YOUR BRAINS!!!

A suggestion was made to me by one of the HuffPost editors.  Wrap up the series of Articles on Conservative Arguments for Healthcare.  His reason, a very good one, is that people have a hard time with series of articles. 

I originally thought about writing a single post, but I think it is just as dangerous to put something out that is 14 stories tall that no one reads.  We have shorter attention spans.  This doesn’t mean we are dumbing down.  I just think it means we, as a whole, are processing differently.  Making a reader’s eyes glaze does nothing for anybody.

Besides, I have seen some great comments to the posts and enjoy incorporating and condensing the arguments.  (If you leave a good comment, i'll steal your material for a later response.)  One big post doesn’t allow for growth.

That is why I serialized.  However, I wrote 4 parts so far with not a lot of comments. 

I need a big hand.  (I already have very large feet...)

I kicked out the idea of a Federalist Papers for Healthcare and that didn’t catch fire, but here is a middle ground.  With the indulgence of the editors of HuffPost, I hope that you guys can place this in a spot where people can see this for an appropriate period of time.  We need some HuffPost Eyeballs.  I would like to involve the HuffPost community to create a more interactive blog.

As you read this, I would like you, the reader, to get involved here.  We are all trying to get this thing passed. 

We are in a fight not just for Healthcare, but for our country and what being an American is.

We see the clips of angry people attacking our leaders with slogans and half baked ideas.  We also talk to those around us who don’t see things the same way.  At least I hope that we are not at that level of intensity where we would reject someone because of a position they have arrived at from their life experience.  We need to listen and formulate then respond.

I am asking for an interactive blog that that we can use as a clearing house for the roadblocks offered to you in response to our healthcare arguments.

When we get somebody saying the illegals should get nothing, what are some good responses.  I am not looking for boilerplate responses here, but a method of thought that can be used to diffuse their position.  You pick the type of responses that suit you. 

I want you battle tested with the best possible responses to the “War on Healthcare”.  We are the defenders of health.  We need to set the rules here.

And even if you don’t have a good response to a question posed to you, put it up here.  let all of us kick it around.


This first post or two will be gathering and refining our communities’ ideas (pronounced idears if you are from Philly.)  The next post or 2 will be about all our experiences using these idears in the field (on the net, with a neighbor, etc.).  The last post will be a summary, but not a rule book.

I want an intelligent community of people who can clone themselves and find their own personal voices in this debate.  I’d like to use this section of the post as a touchstone or reference area for our Health Defense Department.

I’d like to format it something like:

Argument: Illegals should get nothing, no healthcare, box ‘em up and send them back from where they came.

Responses

  1. We are paying anyway when they show up at the ER.
  2. Being a recovering Catholic, I believe in the Gospel stories of the Good Samaritan as well as Matthew 25 where we are compelled to help those who are sick (do you want to be a sheep or a goat?).  Can you show me the passages where Jesus is checking the green cards?
  3. If we can at least acknowledge the illegals among us, we can get them paying taxes and they can share the burden.


You don't need to use all or any of these idears.  Find the ones that fit your voice the best.  It will better arm us for the arguements to come. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mr. President, Republicans are Sensing Victory, Because You Won't Fight

In the middle of August, I got one shot off to the president saying that I am getting ticked off that he is negotiating with people who want to do him in. If President Obama’s knees buckle on Wednesday night, it will have more dire ramifications than just this health bill.

I don’t know if a letter like this gets to him or somebody in the room helping with the speech, but I can hope.


Mr. President,

We need to see your teeth Wednesday night. I want to know that there is some steel behind the cool fa├žade. This summer the message has been taken from you. You need to take it back, strongly.

I want the low growl that says we are going to get this done. I want to hear an attitude that says, “Any Democrat stepping out of line at this point is done. Not because I say so, but because every person who worked for me last year will be ticked off. Do you seriously think any volunteer will work for you next year if this opportunity is squandered?”

Look straight at the Congress and continue with, “You were sent here to do a job. So am I. Many of you are here because of me. You were swept into office because of change. Those of you Democrats who have multiple terms benefited from last year’s campaign. You are to put it on the line and get the public option done.” (Although, I would rather you go for the whole enchilada and say single payer here.)

“The entire country is looking at us. We have the votes. If you fail this mission, they will look at the Democratic Party and rightfully say, ‘There is no discipline there to get anything done. We have pie-in-the-sky ideas, but no backbone to see it to a reality.’”

We need to stick together. If the Republicans want to continue with their current strategy, then fine. Mr. President, you can’t control them. Hell, they can’t control themselves. You are teaching pigs to sing. Everybody is getting more and more irritated.

That irritation will result in apathy greater than what existed in the middle part of this decade when the Republicans took complete control of this country and ran it into a ditch.

Cool ain’t gonna cut it now.

There are times for changes in timbre and tone. It doesn’t have to be forever, one night will do. We, the people who got you there, need to know it is in there. After all the garbage that has been thrown at you, yes, you are allowed to get mad. You need to get mad on the behalf of those who can’t speak or buy their very own Congresspeople.

Michael Dukakis lost his bid to sit where you are now because he didn’t get mad at the right time. He tried to seriously answer a foolish question and got laughed out of the debate. You have, thankfully, gotten much further than him.

You have the numbers. You still have our hope. We need to know you can bring the hammers. Now is the time for hope to become reality.

The alternative is unthinkable.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Conservative Argument for Healthcare Reform: Part 4: Pop Torts

After attending the Sestak-Toomey debate in Allentown this week I struck up a conversation with one of the people who questioned the two senate candidates during the forum. This person was a 60-something doctor of oncology. His perspective was how much we need tort reform because malpractice insurance rates are killing his ability to make a profit. Forget that off-the-wall settlements are representing about one half of one percent of the cost of doing business; he is concerned that the unintended effects of a free-wheeling jury system forces doctors into unneeded tests, or defensive medicine.

There should not be obscene judgments to people who, in his mind, can’t use them. Part of his argument to me was a case where a crack baby from Philly needed surgery to fix a leak in her heart. During the surgery they needed to place equipment on her one of her two arteries on the baby’s arm. Because she is a crack baby many parts of the child did not develop normally. When they placed the equipment on the arm it caused complication such that the arm needed to be amputated. Somebody got a lawyer and sued and won a judgment of $150 million. Many times greater, in the doctor’s mind, that that girl could use or deserves.

He is also concerned about the future of the types of people going into medicine. By this he means that the malpractice rates are so exorbitant it would not be profitable to be a doctor anymore. His assistants joined the conversation outside the forum with the tack of lower standards would allow unqualified people into the field. There was veiled racism involved in this charge and it was at this point I said I would need to leave.

During the conversation the doctor and his assistants talked a blue streak. I couldn’t refute anything because they sucked half the oxygen out of the Lehigh Valley.

I’ll do my refuting here.

Let’s look at the defensive medicine argument for a moment. Anytime somebody gets symptoms there is a method to fixing them. A regimen is formed over time, over the millions of people who get treatment. As an idea works, it is incorporated into the process. If an idea doesn’t work it is discarded. Defensive medicine, as I am seeing it now, is the coming together of the experience from over time and methods that are essentially be handed down by a form of common law (from outside the medical system – and you know how easy it is to say to some doctors there is another way of doing things…).

This form of common law is the lawsuit. People who have been harmed by the omission of a test are able to go to court and make the case that the test they missed should be part of the regimen. The uncomfortable part of this for the doctor and his insurance carrier is the big punitive settlement.

The punitive settlement will get the attention of the other doctors, who say, “I have a patient with X symptom, if I don’t do test Y to rule something in or out, I may have a problem later.” Believe it or not this is Adam Smith’s invisible hand at work. The marketplace is dictating to the doctor – do this or else. You could almost look at the punitive damages as kind of an ongoing education system.

Another facet of the big settlement is the safety valve function. There is nowhere else in the system that allows for redress or prevention of a bad doctor. I asked the oncologist how many of his brethren in the Lehigh Valley were bounced out or at least reprimanded? The blue streak immediately fired in another direction.

There is no effective weed out process evident to the public once somebody gets an MD. It is like looking at the thin blue line in another profession. The only redress is the big buck settlement. You can complain about the lawyers all you want, but they are the natural counter-balance to an out-of-control doctor. It is kind of the next step up in the economic predatory food chain. We are still looking for the predator that will ace the lawyer.

That brings me to the last part of this argument, brought in by his back-up band. The argument went along the lines of; ‘because there isn’t as much money to be made in healthcare you won’t get the best and brightest. God help you if you will someday be treated by one of THOSE people who were let into the medical schools with lower standards.’

This part of the conversation led me to think about what these folks think of as best and brightest. I am willing to bet there are a lot of people out there who could not go to medical school because of economic issues. They are wonderful healers, but not talented with a checkbook. Put them in a lab and they are wizards, put them with a stock portfolio and they are 4 feet sticking up in the air. My doctor is a really nice guy, but it really doesn’t matter to me what my doctor’s stock portfolio looks like, unless he has a good tip. I want to know that he can troubleshoot my problems and come up with solutions. My customers don’t care about my car payments, can I fix their computer?

I am not saying here all doctors are greedy and need reigning in, but it does make you wonder when you realize a doctor actually intentionally set the Octomom saga into motion. If the exorbitant dollars some of these people are getting dried up, would there be so many optional plastic surgeons, botox clinics or viagara ads? Would those resources actually go to helping those who really need medical care? Yes, it is the invisible hand working towards having these things, but it doesn’t jibe.

If a doctor is in medicine for the money first, please do the rest of us a favor and go into another part of the marketplace, we need the economic development and you have the brains. We need people dedicated to healing like poets are dedicated words.

The conversation also made me think about my wife, who has a doctorate. She doesn’t get the big bucks this guy is talking about. It made me think of the really, really dedicated people who work at the rehab center my wife works at, or the other professors she has taught with. I don’t see these as people who are out for the buck first. I see these as people, many truly free-spirits, who have dedicated their professional lives to the betterment of their fellow human being. For that, they are all better than me.

Yeah, everybody bitches and moans about the bucks they get or the resources allocated to do the job at hand. But that is everywhere and in every profession. Maybe it is time some of these doctors got on the level with the rest of us.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Conservative Argument for Healthcare Reform: Part 3: St. Matthew and his friends are on our side. I like our odds.

You a Christian? I am a Christian. I am a recovering Catholic. Have you checked out the Gospels lately? Many conservatives know how to meld religion and politics very well. I like it when one of our guys turns the tables.

As I prepared these articles I didn’t expect the passing of Teddy Kennedy. Like a whole lot of bloggers, I put a piece out stating a slightly different facet of his passing.

What I really didn’t expect was how the Gospel reading at his funeral was a sharp stick in the eye of the Congresspeople sitting in the pews.

For those who aren’t Catholic, the Mass is divided into the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Liturgy of the Word has a number of set prayers wrapped around some variables; an Old Testament Reading, followed by a Psalm, followed by a reading from the New Testament from the Acts of the Apostles thru Revelation, to a Gospel Proclamation, to a reading from the Gospel (a selection from one of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) to a homily (a reflection by the priest of what was read).

The Liturgy of the Eucharist is essentially dinnertime (after all the reading and homilying); the priest prepares a dinner where the main course is actually Jesus Christ’s body and blood. Don’t make fun of this, this is my faith and I believe this part of my religion. I would never take a shot at what you believe.

The Christ I believe in is a tough guy. He has no problem calling out those in charge of the society for their high morals on ritual, but no room for the poor. He is the guy flipping out on the merchants’ tables in the Temple because there needs to be honor in God’s home. He calls out the rich, stating that it will be easier for a camel to pass thru the eye of a needle than to get to heaven. (The Eye of the Needle was a very narrow entrance to Jerusalem, not impossible, but extremely uncomfortable.) The Christ I believe in will call out an unproductive fig tree. Not a guy you want to cross (no pun intended).

The funeral’s New Testament reading from Romans was a great setup for the Gospel, “If God is with us who can be against us.” Catholics believe the Gospels are the actual words of Christ and therefore God. The passage reinforces what is to come.

The Gospel reading was Matthew 25:31-46. Kennedy picked out a really cool passage. He knew who would be attending his funeral; those on his side of the healthcare debate and those opposing it. The passage talks about Judgment Day and how we are to be defined by our actions. At the end of the day you are either a sheep or a goat. Sheep go to heaven and goats --- well you can read the passage yourself.

The sharp stick in the eye to those sitting there is the challenge of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and CARING FOR THE SICK. Christ goes into what happens if you do as He says and what happens if you don’t. Teddy Kennedy knew what was doing with that passage by saying to those opposing healthcare, you are doing so at risk to your own soul.

If you are a conservative who shields yourself with your Bible, He is calling you out. He (and you can replace He with either Kennedy or Christ here) is saying in clear and no uncertain terms you are to care for the sick. That means all of the sick, not just some of the sick, not just the ones who were born here, or who have a green card. We are talking all the pre-conditioned, unemployed, unemployable, unenjoyable, poor, stinkin’, sweatin’ sick.

There is nothing wrong with quoting Matthew as we make our arguments to get healthcare for everyone.

If they don’t come around, they can enjoy their time with the goats.

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Goat alert - added after original posting!!!!

At a Healthcare Forum in Philly, you know the City of Brotherly Love, Joe Sestak was on stage with about 5 - 6 other Congresspeople. He is questioned about tort reform. The example he uses is a 6 year old quadriplegic being capped at 250,000 for life. He cannot even get the words out before being drowned out by the boos of the mostly conservative crowd.

This is exactly what I am taking about. We need to hold the moral fire to these people's feet.

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